Jacinta Fitzgerald never expected to be chosen as a winner in our Around the World in 750 Stories contest. In November 2012, the single mother of four shared with our Facebook community her daughter Syrai’s dream of visiting her namesakes, Sylvia and Ray Durell, close friends of Fitzgerald’s who live in Whitehorse.
Over the years, Syrai, 8, had been to the airport only to drop off and pick up her sisters, who travel to visit their father. But Syrai had never been on an airplane or visited with Sylvia and Ray, even though they speak daily on the telephone and send each other letters in the mail.
So the St. John’s resident was skeptical when she opened her inbox shortly thereafter and discovered that her story had been selected. Instead of rushing to share the news with Syrai, Fitzgerald kept the news to herself.
Christmas was just around the corner and she couldn’t think of a better gift.
She waited until her daughters had all opened their gifts before announcing there was one more, just for Syrai.
Leaning in close, she said: “We won a trip to Whitehorse.”
Jacinta’s daughter couldn’t believe it. Tears of joy immediately started flowing from her eyes and after a moment she replied “really?” followed by “does Sylvia know?”
Syrai went straight into planning mode, making lists of what she would do once in Whitehorse: motorcycle riding, kayaking, horseback riding, to name a few.
Finally on June 15, 2013, after months of anticipation, it was time to take off. As she watched her hometown get smaller and smaller, Syrai sat back and let the reality of it all sink in. A huge smile was lighting up her face.
It was a long flight – the mother and daughter were travelling across the country afterall – but when they arrived in Whitehorse, it was well worth it.
The next day, Syrai started tackling her long list of activities from camping and fishing at Fox Lake to swimming at the Canada Games Centre. They even saw a wild bear. And during most the two-week trip, Sylvia and Ray were alongside the mother and daughter.
Although she had never physically met them before, they always were part of her life. “They’re like grandparents to her” explains Jacinta. So actually spending some vacation time with them in Yukon meant the world to Syrai,
Like with most vacations, Syrai and Jacinta say it passed by too quickly. But before landing in St. John’s, we had one more surprise in store for the duo – tickets in Executive class!
“This contest was meant to mark our 75th anniversary by connecting the largest possible number of Canadians with the places and people they cherish” points out Andres Suarez, Manager Marketing and Partner Promotions. “Therefore, we were glad to make these moments even more enjoyable with gestures like this one.”
Stay tuned for more dream travel come true from our Around the World in 750 Stories contest.