Four-year-old Cole Wittenberg’s last wish is to meet the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
And the Children’s Wish Foundation of Nova Scotia — with help from a widely shared social media post and community support — is making it happen.
It all began Thursday with a Facebook post from Strange Adventures Comix & Curiosities in Halifax.
“Does anyone who’s on here know anybody with four TMNT costumes & four folks willing to wear them?” the post read, with background added from Children’s Wish co-ordinator Jacob Rafuse.
There were plans to take Cole, who is from Kentville, on a one-week trip to Walt Disney World. But they aren’t sure his doctor will allow him to travel until after his next scan at the end of the month.
Even if he can travel, there are no Ninja Turtle-themed parks or characters at the ready anywhere in North America.
So Rafuse’s plan is to bring the turtles to Cole.
He told the Chronicle Herald Cole’s wish was a rush request, as “time is not on his side,” so Rafuse reached out to some local contacts, which included Strange Adventures.
As of Friday afternoon, the post had been shared nearly 300 times and had about 40 comments from people showing their support.
Many said they didn’t have costumes but tagged someone else who might. Others offered alternatives like sewing the costumes from scratch.
One couple from Truro offered to deliver 2×4-foot individual paintings of the Ninja Turtles.
But at about 1 p.m., Rafuse received a message from a resident in New Brunswick who saw the post and specially ordered four costumes to be delivered to Halifax.
Cole and his mom Kaleena Wittenberg (Contributed)
“Everybody just comes out of the woodwork when these things happen and want to be part of it and create these amazing experiences for these kids.
“It’s incredible to see,” he said.
Cole’s mother Kaleena Wittenberg agrees.
“All these people wanting to help, it just blows my mind,” she said in a phone interview on Friday.
She said Cole was diagnosed with potentially fatal Rhabdomyosarcoma in July 2015 when he was just two-and-half years old.
Sarcomas are cancers that develop from connective tissues in the body and usually begin in muscles that help the body move.
In Cole’s case, a tumour appeared on his pelvis.
Wittenberg says he went through 43 weeks of chemotherapy and 23 rounds of daily radiation. Last May, they got the all-clear but last week they learned it had returned.
This time the tumour is in his lymph nodes and is sitting on top of his lungs. She said it has caused the lung to collapse over 50 per cent, cutting off his windpipe.
Cole has been on palliative chemotherapy for a week, and she said there is already improvement in his breathing.
“We are hopeful it will continue to shrink a bit anyway, to give us some more time with him.”
Cole’s love for the Ninja Turtles began by watching videos on his iPad. It quickly became continuous watching of the TV shows and 80s films and has transformed into a memorabilia stockpile of Ninja Turtle blankets, pillows and slippers.
A social worker at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax passed along Cole’s request to the Children’s Wish Foundation.
Wittenberg says both the IWK and the foundation have been fantastic.
“I never felt like we were alone,” she said.
She says the IWK kept them in the loop, making sure they were comfortable considering everything that was going on.
“This is something we never thought we would have to go through, but they are helping prepare us as best as they can.”
Original publish date: Feb. 17, 2017