‘Epic sky palace’: B.C. businesses help create dream treehouse for boy recovering from cancer

The completed treehouse on Mayne Island built by a handful of Parksville businesses as part of a Children’s Wish initiative for eleven-year old Kai Hennessey. (Courtesy of Kevin Hennessey)
Brandon Ford, Ryan Smythe, Ritchie Rae and Kyle Meston stand behind Kai in his newly-built treehouse on Mayne Island. (Courtesy of Kevin Hennessey)

Eleven-year-old Kai Hennessey is “over the moon” about his new treehouse.

After a long struggle with cancer at a very young age, the Children’s Wish foundation offered him and his family the opportunity to have a wish granted.

Kai asked for a treehouse at his family’s property on Mayne Island.

His parents weren’t sure that would be something the organization could grant, but it quickly became something beyond their wildest dreams. It’s a little bit more high-tech than your average treehouse – with electricity, heat and a loft with a king-sized bed, the space could rival some apartments on the market.

Brandon Ford is the store manager at Albertsons Home Centre in Parksville. He said that the Children’s Wish foundation reached out to him to see if he’d be interested in granting Kai’s wish.

Ford was, and teamed up with Jordan Almond of MKM Projects, and a number of other businesses and individuals in the Parksville area.

“It’s pretty cool. It all stemmed out of a little contact and next thing you know, it was coming to life,” said Ford.

Kai’s dad Kevin Hennessey says that their family still can’t quite believe the scope of the project.

READ MORE: Parksville woman cycles Island to raise awareness for rare cancer

“It’s amazing. It’s incredible. We couldn’t even describe it with words when it was getting built, because they just kept making it more and more awesome. We envisioned it being like a little kid’s treehouse, and it turned into this epic sky palace. My son’s a little bit over the moon about it,” said Hennessey.

“We’re still kind of in a daze like, is this really happening?”

Albertson’s donated all the material, MKM covered the construction costs, and Aurora Roofing supplied the roofing, so they were able to completely fund the project.

“We were able to tell Children’s Wish that not only would we look after the construction, but they could take the money that they had set aside to grant Kai’s wish and they could put it towards another kid, and we would just completely fund and construct the build,” said Ford.

“A lot of this was local people and local businesses stepping up to help grant this treehouse. It went a little bit further than your regular treehouse. If we were to build this treehouse if a customer asked us to do it, it would be like a $35,000 bill. It was pretty surreal.”

Hennessey says that to their family, Ford and Almond are superheroes.

“Brandon and Jordan aren’t just awesome because of the treehouse. They’re also awesome because they were part of Kai’s dream team, helped us raise money, they’re just superheroes. Absolute superheroes,” said Hennessey.

All the Children’s Wish participants gathered at B.C. Place for an Olympic-games style fundraiser. Ford and Almond were on board all the way, travelling to Vancouver with the family to help them fundraise.

“It was unbelievable, just coming out on stage and seeing the jumbotron with all of our kids’ names on them and stuff, and their pictures. We had the smallest team, but we kicked butt. Jordan and Brandon just rocked it – we ended up raising almost $15,000 for Children’s Wish,” said Hennessey.

READ MORE: 9-year-old Parksville cancer victim helped by classmates

Things are looking up for Kai and his family. Around the time the treehouse build started, Kai received the news that he was five years clear of cancer.

“It’s incredible. It was kind of a bright shining beacon at the end of a horrible dark tunnel. It was incredible, like the perfect topper for everything,” said Hennessey.

Hennessey says his son is looking forward to hosting friends for sleepovers and gaming marathons. They plan on decking the space out with bean bag chairs, posters, a board game table and a gaming corner.

Ford also thanked companies Westwood Metals, Complete Windows, Harold Engineering, Kebouw Cranes, Osprey Electric and La-Z-Boy, and individuals Richie Rae, Kyle Meston, Ryan Smythe, Matt Wiebe, Brett Walker and Jeff Codell.

“It was amazing, seeing the smile on Kai’s face … These kids have faced so much, and dealt through so much in such a short period of time of life. With the average wish, you’re changing things for a day. You’re letting them go be a kid for a day, or a week family vacation. This treehouse is something that Kai’s going to use for a long time. It’s his little hideaway, it’s his place to go and be a kid,” said Ford.

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