LETHBRIDGE — A 17-year-old Alberta girl who used her special wish to help others has died.
Kaitlin Boyda, of Lethbridge, learned she had brain cancer just after her 16th birthday in 2009.
She made headlines around the world when it was learned that rather than accept a gift from the Children’s Wish Foundation, Kaitlin wanted the money to benefit others who she felt needed it more.
The Children’s Wish Foundation is a national non-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling a wish for children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
Kaitlin wanted the $9,600 earmarked for her to go to Compassion Canada to provide clean water for communities in Uganda.
Compassion Canada had a goal to drill 21 water wells in 21 communities, at a cost of $9,600 for each well. Kaitlin was already familiar with the group, having previously donated a goat to a poor family overseas through the organization.
“An incredible young lady,” said Compassion Canada’s John Voort.
“I’ve never met anyone like her. I don’t think I will ever again, either. Just an amazing young lady that changed a lot of lives. Not just in Uganda, but right here in Lethbridge, and across Canada, too.
“She changed my life. We’ll never know how many people she influenced, how many people have been changed by her attitude, by her unselfishness and by her strong, strong faith in God.”
When others heard of Kaitlin’s generosity, they were inspired by her compassion and wanted to donate as well. People began to throw barbecues, hold car washes and conduct bottle drives. The Ugandan water project now had a name — Kaitlin’s Wish — and within seven weeks the entire $200,000 was raised to drill 21 water wells.
“It just blows you away,” said Voort. “There were people who literally wrote cheques for $9,600 so they could pay for an entire well. It was just amazing.”
Kaitlin’s sister Melanie Fersovitch said the girl’s strong faith was one of her most recognized characteristics.
“She lived for Christ right until the end,” Fersovitch said. “The water project brought her so much joy. She was very pure in heart and she loved the fact that it happened. Kaitlin’s not defined by her cancer, so even if she hadn’t become sick, she would have loved doing the water project. It made her happy.”