Seated at the head table in Studio 4 at the W.C. Blair Recreation Centre in Langley, BC, Thomas started off the final gathering of the year by thanking everyone for all their hard work. He then proceeded to outline the discussion ahead, pausing briefly now and again to make warm eye contact.
The notes Thomas prepared were merely there for show, he knew what he was saying by heart because it was from the heart. It’s been an intense year, the third overall for his KCH program, which has raised more than $15,000 for BC Children’s Hospital, and he genuinely appreciates the extra effort his team has put in.
In the distance children can he heard having the time of their lives in the swimming pool not far from Studio 4, and right outside the window other youngsters are conquering the playground with glee.
That’s where you’d expect this group to be.
Thomas, who created the Kids Can Help program in 2009, is 10-years-old. His colleagues are boys and girls ranging in age from eight to 17.
This is no ordinary gathering because this is no ordinary group. And thanks to Thomas, today will be extraordinary.
At 3:15 p.m. sharp on Tuesday, May 29th, Vancouver Canucks forward Manny Malhotra listened as the navigation system in his jet-black Audi barked out directions to the W.C. Blair Recreation Centre in Langley, BC.
Shuffling through radio stations Malhotra landed on Hip-Hop and the track Mercy by Kanye West. He gave a slight nod in approval then glanced out his Prada glasses to check the clock, which led to a jolt of gas as he roared east down the Fraser Highway.
“Let me get this straight,” Malhotra said matter-of-factly. “Sean is 10-years-old, he started this group when he was seven, and he raised roughly $15,000 this year for charity? I don’t remember what I was into when I was 10, but it wasn’t anything remotely close to this. I can’t wait to meet this kid.”
In early May Thomas contacted the Canucks in hopes of having a player come out to reward his group for all its selflessness. A visit from Fin was arranged and it was clear when Vancouver’s loveable mascot entered the room the group was ecstatic to see him. Fin is like Santa Clause that way; he spreads joy by just showing up.
But Fin wasn’t alone.
A hush fell over the room when Fin bolted for the hallway for no apparent reason. He then returned, followed by Malhotra, followed by hysteria.
Malhotra’s visit was kept quiet from everyone, including Thomas. The man himself had the wool pulled over his eyes. He’d been hoodwinked and he knew it, but he embraced it before embracing Malhotra.
For the first time ever Thomas felt the sheer happiness he has provided countless others through the Kids Can Help program over the last three years.
After Thomas’ grandmother Connie died from ovarian cancer in 2007, he went on a mission to find a way to make it right. He knew he couldn’t do anything specific for his grandmother, but he recognized how devastating cancer is.
A short while later the Kids Can Help program was born.
“I remember thinking ‘Just because I’m a kid, doesn’t mean I can’t help fight for the cure,’” said Thomas. “My mom then gave me the phone number for the BC Children’s Hospital and she said if I really wanted this, I’d have to do it on my own.”
The goal for Year 1 was to raise $1,000. The group surpassed that by $500. Year 2 the goal was $2,000 and again, they passed it by $500. This year, anticipating big things, the group simply gave it everything it had and $15,300 was the result.
Garage sales, talent shows, bake sales – you name it, the KCH program did it. And the kids won’t be stopping anytime soon.
“Why not shoot for $20,000 next year?” Thomas said, as if it were chump change. “This is my dream and really, my job is easy. It’s all the kids who are going through what they’re going through that are the real heroes.”
This program isn’t Thomas’ only philanthropic outlet, he’s also a pop singer with two albums and the majority of their sales go to the program. Your Love and U R the 1 (both available on iTunes) have raised his profile and that of Kids Can Help.
Easy to say the sky is the limit for Thomas and his group, but it would be a lie. There are truly no limit for youths this incredibly altruistic.
Click here for more information on Thomas and the Kids Can Help program.