Un­easy travel bud­dies

Bill Sey­mour, Patricia Ge­orge to at­tend Labrador meet­ing

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

The Town of Bay Roberts has voted to send a sec­ond del­e­gate to the Stew­ard­ship As­so­ci­a­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties (SAM) meet­ings in Happy Val ley- Goose Bay this month, de­spite strong op­po­si­tion from the deputy mayor.

“There should only be one per­son go­ing,” Bill Sey­mour told The Com­pass last week. “It could’ve been me or it could’ve been her, but there shouldn’t be two go­ing.”

Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion last week to send two del­e­gates — Sey­mour and Patricia Ge­orge — fol­lowed a testy pre­sen­ta­tion to the elected group by Ge­orge dur­ing its Sept. 13 meet­ing.

Sey­mour is coun­cil’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Shearstown Es­tu­ary Joint Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee, while Ge­orge is the ci­ti­zen repre- sen­ta­tive. The com­mit­tee is com­prised of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Bay Robe r t s a n d n e i ghbo u r i n g Spa­niard’s Bay.

Ini­tially, Sey­mour was tapped to at­tend the Oct. 12-14 meet­ing in Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay, with his trip costs paid by the Town of Bay Roberts. But Ge­orge chal­lenged that de­ci­sion, and pulled no punches dur­ing her pre­sen­ta­tion. She was highly crit­i­cal of Sey­mour’s per­for­mance and com­mit­ment to the com­mit­tee, and said she should be the one to rep­re­sent the com­mit­tee.

A town of­fi­cial polled coun­cil­lors by email fol­low­ing the Sept. 13 meet­ing, and the ma­jor­ity agreed that bot h s hould a ttend the Labrador meet­ing.

It was a move that did not sit well with Sey­mour.

t was one of many ex­tra­or­di­nary high­lights of a week-long visit to the re­sort last month, and the cul­mi­na­tion of a re­mark­able year-long ef­fort by Caro­line’s 14-year-old cousin, Dakota Clarke, also of Whit­bourne.

Caro­line, who turns 42 on Oct. 31, has Down syn­drome, and is ar­guably one of the best-known cit­i­zens in Whit­bourne.

For as long as any­one can re­mem­ber, she has been fas­ci­nated by princesses, and her bed­room is a shrine to Dis­ney char­ac­ters. For years, she has asked to visit Dis­ney World, but due to her mother’s fi­nan­cial lim­i­ta­tions, it never hap­pened.

Fam­ily and friends have of­ten re­turned from trips to Florida with gifts for Caro­line, and she would of­ten re­ply: “I want to go with you next time.”

Dakota of­ten heard this af­ter re­turn­ing from va­ca­tions with his fam­ily, which in­cludes his par­ents, Richard and Georgina, and older brother Coady.

Caro­line’s best hope

As he aged, Dakota’s em­pa­thy for Caro­line grew, and he wor­ried that she may one day get sick and never get the op­por­tu­nity.

About a year ago, he ap­proached Prov­i­dence and asked her per­mis­sion for a spe­cial project — to raise enough money to send Caro­line and Prov­i­dence to Dis­ney World.

Prov­i­dence was floored by the re­quest, and quickly con­sented, re­al­iz­ing this may be the best hope for Caro­line to ful­fill her dream.

Dakota im­me­di­ately went to work, stag­ing a walk-a-thon that raised $1,600. In the months that fol­lowed, he or­ga­nized a wake-a-thon, two band shows and a New­fie night. Even “The Teddy Bear Man,” Terry Rielly, agreed to host a pic­nic fundraiser. Caro­line’s younger brother, Al­berta res­i­dent Jody Bud­den, kick­started the ef­fort with a $500 do­na­tion.

Dakota’s ef­forts caught the at­ten­tion of the en­tire re­gion, and dozens of peo­ple ral­lied to the cause, ei­ther by do­nat­ing their time or money.

It helped that his ef­forts were for such a worth­while cause. Caro­line is well-known for her per­ma­nent smile and cheer­ful dis­po­si­tion, and has been spread­ing joy wher­ever she goes — al­ways ac­com­pa­nied by her mother — for her en­tire life.

She lives life to the fullest, de­spite the fact she was expected to die be­fore her first birthday.

Dakota coined all those who helped out “The Dream Team,” in keep­ing with his ef­forts to en­sure Caro­line re­al­ized her dream.

Ex­cited four­some

There were trips to St. John’s to get birth cer­tifi­cates and pass­ports, and even­tu­ally the time came to pay for flights, ac­com­mo­da­tions and trip in­sur­ance. In all, Dakota raised some $4,500. Dakota and his mother ac­com­pa­nied Caro­line and Prov­i­dence on the trip, pick­ing up their own ex­penses and any short­falls in the fundrais­ing ef­fort.

The ex­cited four­some left Sept. 11, and re­turned Sept. 18.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view last week, they all agreed it was an ex­pe­ri­ence never to be for­got­ten, and was ev­ery­thing they had hoped.

“I loved it,” Caro­line shouted with an ex­cite­ment that was pal­pa­ble.

To say she re­ceived the royal treat­ment would be an un­der­state­ment. She dined daily with Dis­ney princesses such as Ariel, Snow White and Cin­derella. She watched char­ac­ters such as Mickey Mouse parade along the streets, and mar­velled as ground-rum­bling and ear-split­ting fire­works ex­ploded over Cin­derella’s Cas­tle.

She had pre­ferred seat­ing at shows, cel­e­brated her birthday ev­ery sin­gle day, and by Day 3 had de­cided she would like to live at Dis­ney World.

She had it all planned. Her aunt, Ann Hig­don, would look af­ter her cher­ished budgie bird, Blue.

“She kept say­ing, ‘ I’m stay­ing here. We live here,’” said Georgina. “She was spoiled rot­ten.”

Caro­li­nen Bud­den stands in front of Cin­derella’s Cas­tle at Dis­ney World in Florida.

While the spot­light was shin­ing brightly on Caro­line, Dakota qui­etly took it all in, proud that his cousin was so happy and ex­cited.

Dakota is soft-spo­ken and hum­ble, and of­fers one-word an­swers such as “ex­cel­lent” when asked to de­scribe the trip.

It’s ob­vi­ous he’s not look­ing for praise for his ef­forts, but is clearly sat­is­fied with what he’s ac­com­plished. He’s quick to share the credit with all those who helped.

It’s no easy feat to raise so much money, es­pe­cially for a teenager who, in most cases, might be more pre­oc­cu­pied with ado­les­cent pur­suits. But his love for video games, and even his com­mit­ment to cadets and Al­lied Youth, of­ten took a back seat to his fundrais­ing ef­forts.

It’s been an in­ter­est­ing start to his Grade 9 year at Crescent Col­le­giate in Blake­town, and some are won­der­ing how he could ever top such an un­selfish deed.

“He’s some­thing else,” Prov­i­dence said of Dakota.

“I’m very proud of him,” added Georgina.

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Sab­rina Jenk­ins/spe­cial to The Com­pass

JESSIE IS THE GIRL — Jessie Fewer of Cupids was crowned Miss Teen Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion 2012-13 dur­ing the eighth an­nual pageant held at S.W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace on Sept. 21. She was also named Miss Teen Friend­ship, and earned the Peo­ple’s Choice Award, which was voted on by au­di­ence mem­bers. She is shown here re­ceiv­ing her crown from Car­bon­ear’s El­iz­a­beth Hicks, last year’s win­ner. For story and photo fea­ture, see Page B1.

Com­pass file photo

Town of Bay Roberts Deputy Mayor Bill Sey­mour.

Dakota Clarke (left) and his cousin, Caro­line Bud­den, pose for photo at Dis­ney World in Florida.

Caro­line Bud­den (left) spent a week in­ter­act­ing with princesses dur­ing a week-long visit to Dis­ney World.

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