British Columbia

Surrey music store surprises 8-year-old heart patient with new guitar

An eight-year-old Surrey boy got the surprise of a lifetime when what he thought was going to be a guitar lesson turned out to be a shiny new guitar.

Store was able to track down future rock star thanks to social media

Eight-year-old Saahyl Sharma playing his new guitar, thanks to staff at a Tom Lee store in Surrey, B.C. (GP Mendoza/CBC News)

An eight-year-old Surrey boy is one step closer to fulfilling his dream of becoming a rock star thanks to the staff of a local music store. 

It all started last week, when Soreya Sharma bought a used guitar for her son and took it into Tom Lee in Surrey to get it restrung.

That's when store manager Kurt Thys realized the guitar was for someone special. Sharma's son, Saahyl, had undergone open heart surgery days after being born and will have to be monitored for the rest of his life. His scar goes from just below his throat down to his ribs. 

After Soreya took home the newly strung guitar, her son was so happy that he asked if they could bake cookies and bring staff a thank you note for their hard work. Thys says everyone was really moved.

"I wish we could get him something else," Thys remembered saying after Saahyl and his mom left the store. "And my whole staff turned around and we looked at each other as if we all knew what we were thinking and we knew what we had to be done."

Saahyl Sharma had to undergo open heart surgery days after being born. He was born with several heart conditions, including transposition of the great arteries, atrial septal defect, and ventricular septal defect. (Soreya Sharma )

That's when Thys says everyone decided to pitch in and buy Saahyl a brand new guitar. Instrument giant Yamaha also decided to help, by doubling what staff had saved. But there was one problem, they didn't know how to get in touch with the family.

"So then the funny thing was, unless you buy an instrument from us, we will not take your personal information. So we realized we needed to get in contact with these guys," Thys said. So the team took to social media to find Saahyl.

Within days they were able to find the family and invited him to the story under the pretence he was getting guitar lessons. 

"We had to fool him," Thys said. "It was just magical."

One of the employees reached out behind the counter and took out a wrapped guitar. "He just about exploded,"  he added.

Eight-year-old Saahyl Sharma pictured with staff from the Surrey Tom Lee store. (Soreya Sharma)

"I was emotional, I was crying," Sharma said, adding Saahyl didn't go to bed until midnight because he was too excited.

Paying it Forward

Although they are usually a very private family, Sharma said they are hoping to use the momentum to bring awareness and raise funds for the Cardiac Department at B.C. Children's Hospital. 

"They've set up a foundation page for Saahyl for donations to go," said Sharma, noting even a little can go a long way. 

Thys says the store is also going to help by donating a couple of guitars and they are hoping other music stores will join them. He also wants to arrange a day to bring the guitars in and play for the kids at the hospital. 

"I'm telling you, in the heart ward upstairs, it's gloomy," Sharma explained. "With Saahyl, after his surgery, we did play music for him. I'm not sure if it was for him, or for me, or for us, but it helped. It definitely did. Music definitely heals and to get some of that in there would be just great."

Saahyl Sharma gets a lesson with his new guitar from Tom Lee employee Lorenzo Peretto. (GP Mendoza/CBC News)

As for her future rock star, Sharma says she's just happy to see her son so excited.

"The note that Saahyl wrote to Kurt, the very last line is, 'Thank you for what my mom calls the noisy flute. I'm going to have to find some way to buy Tylenol for her.'" 

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