Savanna Morris arrived at Toys “R” Us in Kamloops on Monday morning with a strategy and a gang of supporters.
“Remember to stick to the route, Savanna,” dad Mike Morris said.
Brother Ryder was told to grab toys on the right side of the store, while twin sister Kaylee was directed to her jurisdiction on the left.
Lego, Crayola, Slime, Barbie — it was all within their reach.
“I got it all organized,” Savanna said.
Dua Lipa’s New Rules boomed by request into the Sahali store at 7:30 a.m., before the Toys “R” Us opened to the public and prior to second cups of coffee being poured.
Captain Starlight counted down toward a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any kid — three minutes to grab as many toys from the shelves of the store as possible.
The nine-year-old Penticton girl with cerebral palsy and autism was selected as one of 10 kids from across Canada to take part in this year’s 3-Minute Dash, which is geared at providing positive memories to ill children.
Captain Starlight started the countdown:
“Ladies and gentleman, five, four, three, two, one, go!”
Savanna and her family were off.
They rushed down the aisles, filling shopping carts labelled in the nine-year-old’s honour. The first three carts were filled with Star Wars Lego and a karaoke machine.
Carts five through seven were stuffed with a T-Rex, Beauty and the Beast dolls and that coveted squishy, oozy material that’s so fun to stretch, pull and mould.
“Did you get the Slime?” Captain Starlight asked.
“Right there,” Savanna said.
The family arrived in Kamloops a day early to scope out the store and hide toys in places they’d be able to easily collect them.
That strategy, however, didn’t work out as well as they had hoped.
Unbeknownst to dad Mike, staff had cleaned up a hidden stack of Crayola products placed in one aisle the day before.
It caused a moment of distress, with Mike frantically searching out items his daughter had earlier requested as Captain Starlight yelled, “Just grab it, dad! Take it, take it, take it!”
“Mayhem,” Mike Morris told KTW after the dash.
Eight shopping carts overflowed with toys, some of which will be shared amongst Savanna’s three siblings. Ryder Morris was excited about a remote-controlled car he picked up.
Toys “R” Us president Melanie Teed-Murch said the family did “great,” noting dashers in the past usually filled between four and six carts.
The Morris kids will enjoy heaps of new toys, but dad Mike gets the prize for foresight.
“Dad, you are the smartest guy. You brought a trailer,” Captain Starlight said.
WHAT IS THE 3-MINUTE DASH?
Savanna was selected as one of 10 kids from across Canada to take part in the 3-Minute Dash, made possible via a partnership between Toys “R” Us and the Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada.
Toys “R” Us customers who donate money to the foundation during a fall and winter campaign helped pay for the shopping spree.
Donning a purple and yellow superhero costume on Monday, Captain Starlight doubles as Starlight’s vice-president of children’s services, Ghyslain Gagne.
He has never missed a dash and has watched it grow from three to 10 shopping sprees each year across Canada.
It’s a year of work that leads to three minutes of joy.
“This is winning the lottery [for a kid],” Gagne said. “This is it.”
Toys “R” Us Kamloops store director Sandra Mori said the event is uplifting for employees, who helped the family and were on hand to blast off confetti and balloons in the store on Monday morning.
Mori doesn’t mind cleaning up bits of paper shot all over her store after “uncertainty” following the shuttering of Toys “R” Us stores in the United States (see related story on the Business front, page A19, of today’s newspaper).
Mori said the event was “very invigorating for my team.”
She said it was also important they see where the money goes, noting staff ask customers October through December to donate to the cause and put a star up on the store wall.
Teed-Murch said the “moment of joy” aligns with company values.
But it’s Savanna and her family who won’t soon forget their latest trip to the toy store.
“It’s huge to us,” Mike Morris said.