‘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)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)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.

emily.vance@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

CancercharityfundraiserParksville

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Cattlemen’s Association general manager Kevin Boon. (B.C. Cattlemen’s Association photo)
COVID, BSE, water access and private land rights: B.C. Cattlemen’s general manager weighs in

Kevin Boon said positive aspect of pandemic is more people interested in where their food comes from

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

The BC Wildfire Service will be partnering with Simpcw First Nation this month in the implementation of a prescribed burn next to their community of Chu Chua. The controlled burn will be highly visible to Highway 5 and all communities in the immediate area. Pictured is a prescribed burn that took place on the Kanaka Bar Reserve last month in partnership with the Kanaka Bar Band and BC Wildfire Service. (BC Wildfire Service Facebook photo)
Simpcw and BC Wildfire Service to hold controlled burn near Barriere

Burn will be highly visible to Chu Chua, Barriere, Darfield, Chinook Cove, Little Fort and Highway 5

District of Clearwater meetings are open to the public. The meeting agendas and past meetings minutes can be viewed on the DOC's website. Every meeting has time allocated at the end for comments from the public.
Clearwater to benefit from funding through Ministry of Tourism initiative

The District’s Trails Task Force was sucessful in securing a grant for $684,000.

Carlos Sigurnjak went missing about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6, according to a Facebook post by his family. (Facebook/Carlos Sigurnjak profile)
UPDATE: Clearwater RCMP find missing man from Kelowna

Sigurnjak was found just before 2 p.m. April 8 by a passerby.

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Most Read