Andrei Marti knows what it’s like to rely on the kindness of strangers.
Since being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in August 2015 at the age of five, Andrei has received an enormous amount of support from Help Fill A Dream, with the organization helping to cover his $400 a month in medical expenses, and even sending him on a one-day adventure to Disneyland.
But now the seven-year-old is setting out to turn all of that on its head, literally.
“Every few days I go downtown and busk. I do handstands for about an hour,” said the Grade 3 student at St. Joseph’s elementary who has even obtained a permit from the City of Victoria.
Andrei’s first few trips downtown have already brought in several hundred dollars.
“It’s phenomenal the response he gets downtown,” said Andrei’s mom Annelies Browne. “People will walk by and hand him a $50 bill or $20 bill.”
Andrei is head over heels after recently learning Help Fill A Dream will be sending him to Florida at Christmastime to visit Disneyworld, Busch Gardens, Marine World, Universal Studios and Legoland.
But Browne said the trips are only a small part of the good work done through Help Fill A Dream.
“They paid for his medication for a year, that was a huge amount of money, they bought him a bike to keep his insulin levels down,” she said. “They’ve helped a lot of children with different things, such as wheelchairs, wheelchair access for their house, it’s definitely much more than their dream [trip].”
Andrei’s philanthropic efforts are nothing new. He recently received the youth in philanthropy award for his efforts raising more than $4,000 in recyclables to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“After his diagnosis, he realized how many sick children there are out there and how lucky he really is,” said Browne. “He’s had a few friends already pass away from various illnesses. He’s grown up really quickly.”
Andrei has to check his blood 10 times a day, and has to inject himself with insulin six times a day. He realizes the cost that’s associated with the insulin, needles, test strips and monitors – something not covered by the family’s medical insurance.
“They help out with my medical supplies and a lot of other kids’ medical supplies,” he said. “When they gave me that dream [of going to Disneyworld], I wanted to give back. I just like to help other people.”
If you would like to help Andrei bring dreams to life, keep an eye out for him outside the Bay Centre (he normally sets up on Government between Fort and View). Those who can’t make it downtown can also make a donation on Andrei’s behalf by contacting Help Fill A Dream at 250-382-3135, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.helpfilladream.com.