A special message of hope delivered from Hamilton
By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly
While hope had filled the Fort McMurray streets during Canada Day weekend, there was one special star painted by a young man who is battling a beast of his own.
The 19 year old resident from Ontario spent time on June 27 painting a wooden star using colours of his favourite hometown football team – the Hamilton Tiger Cats – with words of his lifelong motto: “Keep Fighting,” written on it.
The man behind the message is Devin Scullion.
At the young age of four months old, Scullion was diagnosed with progeria. The rare disease is defined medically as a genetic condition that causes rapid and premature aging. As most suffering with the condition don’t live past the age of 13, Scullion is the world’s second-oldest patient to outlive the statistics.
On June 29, Scullion had a video message shared on Twitter via @DisasterHeroes saying: “Keep fighting, Fort McMurray.” Scullion wanted to pass on the strength to the northern city, as the very words have kept him strong throughout his years.
The star was one of hundreds of heartfelt gifts brought to Fort McMurray through the Stars of HOPE (SoH) program – a worldwide therapy art project for people who have experienced tragedy in a natural or man-made disaster.
Global Ambassador of SoH and board member for the New York Says Thank You Foundation Suzanne Bernier said she met with Scullion just days before departing to Fort McMurray for the weekend. Bernier said SoH learned about Scullion’s inspirational life story and asked if he wanted to take part in the program – he did.
“I drove to Hamilton with a couple of blank stars, some paint and paintbrushes and spent the afternoon with Devin and his niece,” Bernier explained. “I promised him that I would be sure to give his star to someone special in Fort McMurray and that I would bring him back a star that was painted by someone from there.”
Once in the city, Bernier carried Scullion’s star in the municipality’s Canada Day parade. Afterwards, she and Scullion’s star headed over to MacDonald Island to help with the Stars of HOPE community paint event. It’s here where she met local firefighter Kyrianne Mills from Fort McMurray Fire Station #3 in Thickwood.
“I showed him Devin’s video and presented him with his star,” she said. “Mills was so moved that he invited us to meet with his crew the next day.”
Mills and his crew presented Bernier with an original Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Fire Department badge to give to Scullion when she returned to Ontario.
“We did keep fighting, and we will continue to keep fighting,” Mills said in a thank you message to Scullion from the station.
Brenier said she is excited to share the Fort McMurray feedback with Scullion.
“I know Devin will be thrilled to hear where his star ended up, and that he was able to bring hope and healing to the fire department and the entire community of Fort McMurray.”