CANNING - Corey Jackson is determined to live for today.
Doctors have described the 18-year-old as “a miracle” for living beyond the age of 16 with Mason’s Syndrome. The Kentville resident is the lone survivor out of four siblings born with the rare neurological disorder.
And he plans to make the most of his time.
“I’m going to stay living forever,” he said, punctuating this vow with a contagious toothy grin during an interview at his school Dec. 12.
A returning grad at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, Jackson dreams of watching a Toronto Maple Leafs game in person.
The Maple Leafs learned of Jackson’s wish this fall, and offered up three free tickets for the local teen, and two chaperones, to attend a home game against the New York Islanders on Jan. 31, 2018.
He’s now in the process of trying to come up with the money to cover airfare and hotel costs.
Tanya MacBride, an education assistant at NKEC and respite worker, started an online crowd-funding campaign through YouCaring.com to help Jackson collect $3,000. As of 9:30 a.m. Dec. 12, the campaign received $1,180 in donations.
“I try to live every day to its fullest and do things that I have dreamed about and may not have the opportunity to do,” Jackson’s YouCaring.com campaign reads.
“I have already been granted my wish from the Children's Wish Foundation and went to Florida. My foster parents felt my time was limited and put my wish in for me. Now that I am almost 19, I have other dreams that I would like to see come true.”
MacBride helped Jackson write the description for the YouCaring campaign. She’s watched him engage in countless verbal sparring matches with school staff members bold enough to identify as Habs fans.
“He has so much Toronto stuff in his room it’s unbelievable,” she said, describing him as a poster boy for the NHL team.
Jackson is well known for his sense of humour, but he’s also shared personal details about the impact of his medical condition in a YouTube video he called Life in a Chair.
“He’s very inspirational,” said MacBride, describing her time with Jackson as “life changing.”
MacBride works with Jackson at school and after class, and she feels fortunate to be a part of the fun when he comes up with a new idea for his bucket list.
“We try to do something different every year, don’t we? It’s always an adventure,” she said, smiling at her sidekick.
Jenny Collishaw, a resource teacher at NKEC, sees Jackson as one of those students everyone has a fun story about.
“Corey has picked up people all along the way and made us love him. It took us about 30 seconds to fall in love with him… he is family,” she said.
“He’s all about the bottom line of making a buck. He’s the kind of kid that goes out to the bake sale, buys a brownie for 50 cents and then tries to peddle it for $1.50 somewhere else,” she joked, drawing a laugh out of Jackson.
There are times when the student becomes the teacher and, be it intentional or by chance, the most resonating lessons of the day come from being a part of pursuing the next wild idea Jackson dreams up.
“One of the biggest things he’s taught me is that every day there is something beautiful in that day, and it’s a day that should be celebrated,” she said.
“Why not… seize the day?”
Did you know?
A portion of the admission fees collected at the NKEC vs West Kings high school hockey game in Canning Dec. 15 will be donated to Corey Jackson’s cause. The puck drops at 8 p.m., and guests are encouraged to wear white as a show of support for Corey Jackson.