Postcards a wish come true for local boy

Postcards a wish come true for local boy

Evan Vaudry with his parents Lynne and Stephen, inside the cabin. Lynne and Stephen have been named honorary chairpersons at the Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island’s Evening of Wishes Dinner on Saturday, Nov. 16.

CUMBERLAND – In the two years since Evan Vaudry received his custom-made log cabin from Make-A-Wish, the 8-year-old Cumberland resident, who has spinal muscular atrophy, has received postcards from people from all 50 states and is now working to collect messages from across the world.

The postcards, addressed to “Evan’s Cabin,” which Evan receives in a mailbox outside the playhouse in his parents’ backyard, cover one of the walls of the cabin and have allowed the 3rd-grader at Garvin Elementary School to learn all about different people and places from around the country.

There’s one from Sun Valley, another from Chicago, and another from a little girl in Texas who wrote that she was sending Evan a picture of an armadillo for his cabin. “We’re still very grateful for this gift,” Evan’s mom, Lynne Vaudry, told The Valley Breeze.Vaudry, a Cumberland native and dentist in Lincoln, and her husband Stephen, a pharmacist for CVS, have been named honorary chairpersons at the Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island’s Evening of Wishes Dinner on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. at the Omni Providence Hotel, One West Exchange Street in Providence, where they will share Evan’s story, especially focusing on the postcards.

Vaudry said she and her husband were honored to be asked.

“We’re happy to do it,” she said, adding that Evan is excited to go on stage. “It’s a well-put together event. … There are many committees that work really hard to put it on.”

In July 2017, Evan, who uses a powered wheelchair, received the cabin, made of pine, which has a front porch and rocking chairs for visitors, his own mailbox, a wooden sign that reads “Evan’s Cabin” and a ramp for his wheelchair.

The wish was made possible through Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with help from Jewelers for Children.

“Evan’s wish was a wonderful example of the community coming together, and we are pleased to work with Stephen and Lynne Vaudry to help us toward our ultimate goal of fulfilling every eligible child’s wish in Rhode Island,” William Loehning, chairman of the Make-A-Wish Rhode Island Advisory Council, said in a statement.

Unlike with a vacation, which some wish recipients request, the cabin “has been the gift that’s kept on giving,” Vaudry said. “It will bring him joy for many, many years.” A few months after he received the cabin, Evan started receiving postcards in his mailbox, starting with one from Vaudry’s aunt. Thanks to social media, friends and friends of friends, people who didn’t know Evan, began sending notes and asking what states he was missing so they could help him reach his goal.

“He’s gotten all 50 states (and) now people are sending (postcards) from all around the world,” Vaudry said.

When he was 2 years old, Evan, an only child, was diagnosed with SMA, a genetic disorder characterized by weakness and atrophy in skeletal muscles. Though SMA is progressive, Evan travels to Boston Children’s Hospital every four months for an FDA-approved medication that’s helping him get stronger, his mom said.

After spending two years at Dream Day on Cape Cod, an organization that hosts a camp for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses and their families at Nickerson State Park in Massachusetts, Evan decided that he wanted his own log cabin.

Representatives from Make-A-Wish told the family they hadn’t worked on any wishes like Evan’s before, Vaudry said, and later said that they liked hearing that Evan was enjoying and learning from the messages people are sending him.

The cabin has also given Evan a chance to play and connect with other kids without barriers, Vaudry said. He doesn’t have to watch his friends go down slides knowing he can’t do that.

“As he gets older a lot of kids his age are playing sports. He doesn’t do that,” she said.

Evan hangs out in the cabin every day except when it snows because he can’t get there with his wheelchair, Vaudry said.

“It’s his go-to place,” she said. “If he’s outside that’s where he wants to go.”

The annual Evening of Wishes Dinner is a celebration of wishes in Rhode Island and includes a cocktail reception, silent auction, mission-based dinner program, and a live auction, states a press release. The organization is hoping to raise $280,000 this year toward granting 50 wishes in Rhode Island.

There will be three other Make-A-Wish families speaking at the event, Vaudry said.

Since 2017, Vaudry said her family has remained connected to the Make-A-Wish foundation, which invites Make-A-Wish families to social events and has given them more connections and opportunities for enjoyment.

“Make-A-Wish’s gift to us didn’t end with the cabin,” she said.

Lynne Vaudry, of Cumberland, shows off a wall in her son Evan’s log cabin playhouse that’s filled with postcards from people from all 50 states. Evan, who has spinal muscular atrophy, received the cabin in 2017 from Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with help from Jewelers for Children.
Evan Vaudry, 8, of Cumberland, gets a postcard out of the mailbox in front of his log cabin in his family’s backyard.