Starlight: Ottawa’s Liam Elder

By Pam Dillon

Just One More Sleep for Liam Elder.




Tomorrow—otherwise known as Tuesday, October 21—the 10-year-old Ottawa boy will get to do the stuff of childhood wishes. At the Toys R Us store in Saint Laurent Shopping Centre, Liam and his family will have three minutes—otherwise known as 180 seconds or a ton’a’time—to snatch up as many treasures as they want.

Yes, this is the dream-come-true of being the kid let loose in the toy store. And Liam is in charge.  How awesome is that?

He’s fond of Lego and video games, says his dad, Peter, adding,  “He’s quite excited” about this upcoming trip to the toy store. “He always likes to have a new supply.”

Undoubtedly, Liam’s little brother, Benjamin, is excited too. Ben is 8. He wants Pokemon cards. And for all of three minutes, the world of toys will be theirs.

The 3-Minute Dash is provided through Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada and Toys R Us. Starlight is a charitable organization dedicated to bringing joy and hope into the lives of children with serious illness. A global network established for over three decades, it serves kids and families through partnerships with more than 130 healthcare facilities. Toys R Us is a word-leading toy retailer. Liam is a kid struggling with cancer.

He was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when he was 6. Since then he has had to spend extended periods of time in a hospital bed. In July he relapsed; in August he had a serious infection.

“Luckily,” Peter says, “he gets to go home for a few hours every day.” Either mom or dad sleeps at the hospital each night. “It’s sort of a rotational routine.” 

Since Starlight has provided Liam with a Wii game system, he’s been able to act a bit more like a kid. Liam enjoys Starlight outings as well; they allow him to connect with kids going through similar health issues.

Tomorrow, at 7:30 a.m. he gets to be the star in a fantasy-of-a-lifetime outing. There’ll be plenty of fanfare and fun and dignitaries and wonderful hoopla. But if free toys were real wishes come true, Liam’s family would be—and is—asking for a donor match.

Liam needs a stem cell transplant and there’s a search underway for males aged 18 to 35. The stem cell donation program is run by the Canadian Blood Services under the One Match network ( To register for one match is quite simple and the only test required is a swab from inside your cheek. 

Imagine what a gift it would be if you were a match?



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