In a room filled with family, close friends, representatives from SickKids Foundation and Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Canada as well as cardiac surgeons, the mood was light and celebratory. On the evening of Friday, October 24, 2014, I was honoured, truly, to attend the official book launch for The Mighty O!, a project which came to fruition after author, Emis Akbari, first approached the Veloso family with the idea, two years ago.
The Mighty O
First, let me give you a little background. Owen Veloso is six years old, the youngest son of my close friend, Laura, and her husband, Brian, who have two other children, Emma, 11 and Gavin, 9. His birthday is mere days away from that of my twins; in fact, Laura and I were pregnant at the same time, so my family has been a part of Owen’s journey since before he was born.
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
Owen was born with a potentially-fatal congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome. His young life has been a series of hospital visits, surgeries and close calls. Addressing guests at the book launch, Laura said, “I believe wholeheartedly that, were it not for the hospital for Sick Children, Owen would not be alive today. Were it not for Make-a-Wish Canada, his wish would not have come true. I do not doubt that for one second. The hospital for Sick Children and the Labatt Family Heart Centre saved my son’s life and had he been born in any other city, town, country, we would not be here today.”
A Labour of Love
A long-time friend of the Veloso family, Emis, whom Laura met in junior high school–yes, in the days before it was called ‘middle school’, had not even met Owen when she first broached the subject of writing a book about him two years ago. Beautifully illustrated by Emis’ friend, Toronto artist, Arzu Abbasova (who combed through hundreds of photos for inspiration) The Mighty O! captures the Veloso family’s journey and the tender, special moments that lead to Owen’s wish of being a firefighter being granted by the Make-a-Wish Foundation® of Canada.
Making a Difference
With 100% of the proceeds from the sale of The Mighty O! being donated to the SickKids Foundation and The Make-a-Wish Foundation® of Canada, Laura finds it overwhelming that “…somebody would do this for us, to fight for our cause.” One need only look at Owen’s always-smiling face to know that to fight for his cause is no trouble at all.