Nfld. & Labrador

5 wishes for 5 years: Father fundraising to mark son's cancer remission

Paul Oram will be cancer free for five years in May. Instead of asking for a bike or a toy for a present, he challenged his father to make five wishes come true through the Children's Wish Foundation.

Deon Oram raising $50K after challenge from 7-year-old son

Deon Oram, right, watches as Paul, 7, interrupts during an interview at their home in Glovertown. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

When the going gets tough — and it's not easy to raise $50,000 — Deon Oram thinks back to his own son, on his own wish trip.

In 2016, when Paul Oram was six and almost in remission from Burkitt's Lymphoma, he and his family were sent to Walt Disney World in Florida, and on a Disney-themed cruise.

There, while following his father who was sneaking out to have a smoke on the cruise ship deck, the pair had an experience they won't soon forget.

Paul Oram sits and colours with Mickey Mouse on his Disney-themed wish trip in January 2016. (Submitted by Deon Oram)

"'Daddy,' he said. 'Is this the water that the dolphins is in?'... We're on a cruiseship now, I don't know, 700-feet long. We're up about 300 feet off the water," Oram said.

"The little thing turned around and done a dolphin call … four dolphins come up right outside the ship. Every time he would do the dolphin call, up they would come!"

Every time he would do a dolphin call, up they would come!- Deon Oram

It's that memory that keeps Oram going through the long hours of fundraising, organizing an online auction in support of the Children's Wish Foundation.

"Just to look on his face and think about — only a year and a half prior to that you were holding him in your arms, as white as the driven snow, didn't know if he was going to live or die, and then to see his look a year and a half later — priceless," he said.

"The expression on his face — I would do it over and over and over again for any other youngster."

5 for 5

Oram said his son will mark five years in remission next May, and following a check-up with his medical team, will get to ring the Bell of Hope at the Janeway Hospital in St. John's.

He asked Paul if he wanted a present for the occasion.

"And he didn't want nothing, only to put five smiles on five kids' faces," Oram said.

Deon Oram wipes away tears from his eyes as he speaks about his son and his fundraising effort for the Children's Wish Foundation. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

At $10,000 a wish, Deon Oram has set himself a goal to raise $50,000 in support of the Children's Wish Foundation, to be able to help fund five more wish trips. It's a big challenge, but Oram has raised thousands for the group in the past, and he's determined to see the latest job through.

"At first, I said 'I wanted a toy,' and then I said 'Dad, I wants to put a smile on five kids' faces,'" Paul, now 7, said. "I had a wish, and I don't want other kids to be like 'Why did he get a wish, why didn't we get a wish? We had cancer!'"

I said 'Dad, I wants to put a smile on five kids' faces.'- Paul Oram

That's the reason the family's living room has been taken over by donations: gift cards, paintings, a knitted blanket, even an elliptical machine.

The donations will be auctioned off on a Facebook group that has been organized for the fundraiser. Oram promises all the money, with the exception of proceeds from a few items which need to be paid for, will go to the Children's Wish Foundation. 

As part of the Facebook-group auction that Deon Oram is running, bids will be taken on paintings, clothing and gift cards. Oram figures he has about $15,000 worth of material. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

He has recieved letters of support from the charity.

"I don't have enough yet for $50,000, but we'll certainly give her a fair shake," Oram said from his home in Glovertown.

"I didn't want to go through all this, I just wanted to like, go around and give kids toys to put a smile on their faces," Paul Oram said, interrupting the interview with his father. "But it's okay, cause my dad all done this for me."

'I wish I was only half so strong'

Paul Oram was diagnosed With Burkitt's Lymphoma early in February of 2013, when he was just 3 years old.

His treatment required trips to the Janeway in St. John's, and put strain on his family.

But he beat back the cancer in just months. Deon Oram calls Paul his hero.

Paul Oram, 7, says the Bell of Hope he will hopefully ring in May to mark five years in remission from Burkitt's Lymphoma is "just a little tiny big." (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"If he can beat cancer at three years old, that will tell you how strong he is. I wish I was only half so strong," he said.

"[Cancer] it's really bad," Paul told CBC News. "But sometimes you get to have lots of good stuff, cause right now if I go into the car, I have this little tiny Woody doll [from the Toy Story movie]."

"I had Buzz and Woody [in the hospital], and then I went to see Buzz and Woody and I was like 'Dad do we get like a boat trip or something' and then he said 'yes,' and that's when I done the dolphin call."

Loads of support

Deon Oram works on rotation at the Muskrat Falls project in Labrador. He said when he's not working, he's putting almost all of the rest of his time into the fundrasier.

He's been impressed with the support from the community, estimating he's received more than $15,000 worth of merchandise to auction off.

"If it takes me the next five years to do so, I will raise the $50,000," he said.

Paul Oram holds a Woody Toy Story figure while playing on a whale sculpture that was made by the partner of a family member. The sculpture will be donated to the town to recognize the Children's Wish Foundation. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"Wouldn't you jump at it, be able to say that you granted that wish for your son?" he asked. "I'm all over that, just like a stink. Come on with it. Yes, daddy gotta lose all his time, and everything else.

"But what's time? Nothing."


Garrett Barry


Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter based in Gander.