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Journey of a lifetime: Why a Coquitlam kid got to ride the Rocky Mountain rails

COQUITLAM — Hasti, a Coquitlam resident, was among 15 kids that recently embarked on two-day train trip from Banff, Alta., to Vancouver.

A kid from Coquitlam was one of the 15 children facing severe illnesses that embarked on a joyous journey through the Rocky Mountains last week.

Hasti, 12, lives with a rare skin condition that causes severely dry and stiff skin — a complicated diagnosis, which can affect his joint mobility and muscle movement.

To help him and his family create memories away from the medical stress, Rocky Mountaineer donated a two-day trip through the Canadian Rockies (from Banff, Alta., to Vancouver, B.C.) as part of efforts to bring joy and relaxation.

Hasti's adventure, fuelled by the scenic views of the Rocky Mountains, sing-alongs, trivia, caricature portraits and gifts, was also joined by 14 other families with seriously ill children from Starlight Children's Foundation Canada.

According to a release, the trip connected families from across the country who are facing similar hardships to create new support systems and friends for life.

"Creating positive experiences for families with seriously ill children is the focus of our mission at Starlight Canada, and there is nothing more heartwarming than this unique adventure," said Brian Bringolf, CEO of Starlight Canada in the release.

"Starlight families who were on board the Rocky Mountaineer train last year still speak about its impact to this day and are still in touch with the friends that they made along the way. Once again, we are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of Rocky Mountaineer for allowing even more memories to be made away from the routine hospital visits or fears of illness."

Flights were taken care of by Aeroplan and the Air Canada Foundation.

This was the third consecutive year the trip was donated by both Rocky Mountaineer and Air Canada Foundation to Starlight Canada.