Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) help 10-year-old check item off bucket list

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Article / January 24, 2017

By Breanne Brezinski, Public Affairs, 3 Cdn Div

While many families were preparing for the holiday season by hanging lights, wrapping presents, and enjoying hot cocoa during sleigh rides, one Edmonton family was facing a devastating situation – 10-year-old Rheanna Trepanier had recently been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

Since learning of her diagnosis on October 31, Rheanna underwent immediate surgery and then spiralled into a whirlwind cycle of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. During this time, Rheanna made a bucket list of activities that her and her family have been swiftly checking off.

On a brisk winter day in mid-December, members from  Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) were able to fulfill one of Rheanna’s dreams by taking her for a tank ride.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Lubiniecki of the Strathcona’s said that it was an honour to be able to participate in this event.

I think this story touched so many people on so many different levels. We had more volunteers to participate in today’s event than we had positions to fill throughout the day, ”  said LCol Lubiniecki.

Rheanna was joined by her mom, aunt, grandmother, and two siblings for the fun-filled event.

The afternoon started off with a private tour of the Strathcona’s training center where they were shown a vehicle and weapons display, as well as tank simulators. From there, the family was given a tank ride to the Strathcona Mounted Troop Stables for a ceremonial demonstration.

To be honest, the whole time we were here I forgot about reality and just had fun,”  said Rheanna’s mom, Marissa Trepanier.

I feel so privileged and so honoured. I never thought I would have the opportunity to come onto this base and see the stuff that they showed us,”   added Marissa.

J’Lyn Nye, Honorary Colonel of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, got the ball rolling for this afternoon after being directed to the bucket list on Facebook. She contacted her connections on the base and within minutes the visit was approved by Brigadier-General Simon Hetherington, Commander of 3rd Canadian Division, and Colonel Bill Fletcher, Commander of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.

It was an easy solution for us to just say yes. We have been fortunate in Edmonton, having moved here from Calgary, in the late 90s, to be welcomed by the Edmonton community.”  said LCol Lubiniecki.   “The Afghan years of the Canadian Armed Forces, being in combat, certainly saw the Edmonton community support the men and women in uniform. This was an easy opportunity for us to give something back.” 

Rheanna did not say much the entire afternoon but she had a beaming smile that could put the stars to shame.

The afternoon ended with Rheanna being made an honorary soldier of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). She was given a framed certificate and a small handmade tank that she said she is going to “put somewhere safe.”

Marissa said that she has been blown away with the hospitality that her family has received since Rheanna’s diagnosis.

“It’s special that everybody is coming together to help Rheanna reach these goals and dreams. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Marissa.   “I just want to say Thank You; I can’t even express what this means to us.” 

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