Lightning McQueen is plastered all over Keenan Toulouse-Janssen's bedroom. The smiling red racecar is on the curtains, on the blankets and on the posters on the wall. Plastic replicas of the racing hero are also a big part of the playroom the six-year-old shares with his sister Kaitlyn.
If he doesn't have every line in the movie memorized, Keenan can sure tell you what's going to happen next. And he can sing all the songs. And rhyme off names of all the Cars. His parents “cant even count how many times” they've watched the flick.
When the young Sudburian found out he was going to meet McQueen in real life at Disneyland Resort in California, he didn't know what to say. Looking up at Julie Nicholls from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he just smiled and giggled.
“It's good that Keenan will finally get something to celebrate how much he's come through and how much he's survived,” his mom Crystal Toulouse said. “For a boy of six, it's quite the life he's had.”
When Keenan was born, he suffered brain damage. A few months later, he was diagnosed with liver failure. Luckily, things have been brighter since.
“We were very fortunate — it was his aunt who was able to donate (a liver), so we didn't have to wait very long on the list,” Toulouse said. “He's been an ideal case — no rejection, no complications.”
Still, the youngster has to endure his fair share of health-related stresses. Anytime he goes for lab work, he is accompanied by his good pals from Cars.
“It's been a constant for him — everything is about Cars,” Toulouse said. “His whole little life is about Cars."
That what makes the family's upcoming trip so exciting. Sometime in May, the family of four will fly to California to enjoy the sun and meet the entire crew from Cars, courtesy of Make-A-Wish. The organization is designed to grant “wishes” of children with life-threatening medical conditions to “enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”
“It's a great break for the family,” Nicholls, the Sudbury area wish granter, said. She is thrilled the family will be able to hear their children laugh and enjoy themselves, and forget about all the hospital visits and diagnoses, even if just for a short time.
Breaking the exciting news to families is what Nicholls likes most about her role.
“It's the highlight of the wish-granting process,” she said. While she was thrilled to tell the family they were going on vacation, they were more excited.
“This is obviously exciting for (Keenan),” Toulouse said. “It will actually be our first family vacation.”
The youngsters dad, Colin Janssen, can't wait to see Keenan's reaction.
“I'm just excited to see his face when we get there,” he said.