Written and photographed by Carlie Leeder
One act of kindness can start a chain reaction, which many witnessed this year at the Cranbrook Pro rodeo. It all started with Young trick rider Shelby Cummings who is an ambassador of the Children’s Wish Foundation. Shelby has been performing at rodeos for fifteen years. For thirteen of those years she has offered a child the chance to be a trick rider for a day. Shelby spends the day with them doing their hair and dressing them up so that they can perform a trick with her during her performance. This in itself is an amazing gift for a child.
On August 16th, one special moment turned into an incredible weekend for the Willisson family. As announcer Wes Cummings introduced Brooke Willisson, explaining her condition as she rode in with Shelby. Brooke Willisson is a six year old girl, who was born with the extremely rare condition called Crommelin Syndrome. Crommelin Syndrome is so rare that Brooke is one of seven in the world. This little girl is functioning with missing both her arms completely and also without hips, femurs, and one lower leg bone missing on each leg. Brooke’s parents, Craig and Rachel Willisson were told by Doctors that she would not be able to walk and a very little chance of being able to stand. Brooke has seen over 20 doctors and numerous specialists out of Cranbrook and Calgary. Doing daily physiotherapy, Brooke beat all odds and overcame many unimaginable struggles.
She has learned to ski, paint, and is now going into her third year of dance. Although she had not rode a horse until this weekend she has always enjoyed them. “She is now passionate about them after her spectacular experience this weekend” Her mom said. This young girl told Shelby, when she grows up she would like to be a Doctor, why? She said because she would like to help people.
Brooke’s wish was to go to Disneyland and meet Anna and Elsa, the girls from the movie frozen. The story of Brook Willisson touched the hearts of many who were watching from the stands that day. One couple was moved and compelled to make a difference. During the rodeo a couple by the name of Dean & Tina Uphill of Dacota Freight Services, heard Brooks wish and approached Shelby with the desire to grant her that wish and send Brooke and her family to Disneyland.
That night after the bull riding Shelby brought Brooke back into the arena so Wes Cummings could deliver the news to Brooke and her parents. The family along with everyone in attendance was so taken by surprise with this wonderful act of kindness. There was not a dry eye in the crowd. After hearing the announcement Rachel said “I have been dreaming, praying, wishing, and hoping for the opportunity to be able to take the girls. Never in my dreams did I think it would come in the form of honouring my child’s wish. Absolutely spectacular!”