Hudson Verigin doesn’t know it yet, but he’s just been given the Christmas present he wanted. The nine-year-old boy, who has cystic fibrosis, was introduced to some “elves” Sunday afternoon, part of a group of strangers who came together to grant his wish. But he’ll have to wait until Christmas to learn what’s in the box that Santa allegedly left behind during a pre-holiday test flight with his sled. Liana Stahlbaum and her son, Hunter, took on the role of Santa’s elves to present Hunter with his gift.

How a big-hearted Langley boy got his Christmas wish

Don’t tell Hudson Verigin what’s inside the box or you’ll spoil the surprise

This is a story about how several strangers in four families came together to make sure a big-hearted kid got his Christmas wish.

It begins with Brad McLean and Carla Fraser, a Langley couple who have been staging elaborate light shows at their home for years to help raise money for B.C. Children’s Hospital.

About a year ago, Brad and Carla met nine-year-old Hudson Verigin, when his mom, Voula, brought him by to see the display.

Voula was pleasantly surprised to see Hudson’s picture on a Children’s Hospital poster at the outdoor display.

“That’s my son,” she said to Carla.

The written material that came with the poster described how Hudson was three when he tested positive for cystic fibrosis (CF), how he does physiotherapy twice a day, uses a compressor with nebulizer, and takes pancreatic enzymes and oral medications to help with digestion and to  combat infection, and how he has to visit BC Children’s Hospital every eight weeks.

The two families became friends.

A few days ago, Hudson and his mom made a return visit to see the lights.

When Carla asked Hudson what he wanted for Christmas, he mentioned he was hoping for a “Hatchimal” for Christmas, one of the wildly popular interactive stuffed animals that peck their way out of egg-shaped capsules.

They are almost impossible to find and some people are re-selling them online for hundreds of dollars above their original price.

“I told him they were sold out in the stores, but he said Santa will bring him one,” Voula told Carla.

While they were talking, Hudson, who was out of earshot, took $5 he’d earned doing chores for his grandmother and dropped all of it in the donation box for Children’s.

“I forgot it was in my pocket,” he said.

His mother called it a typically generous gesture by her son, who does all he can for the hospital.

“I just melted,” said Carla.

So she went on Facebook, using the page devoted to the light display, and issued an appeal to help Hudson find his dream gift.

“He’s such a good kid, so giving and kind,” Carla said.

The message appeared on the news feed of Liana Stahlbaum, a Facebook fan of the Langley light display who had never met Carla and Brad, or Hudson and his parents.

Liana noticed the newly-launched Sumas liquor store was running a promotional contest online with the hard-to-find Hatchimals as the prizes.

When she posted to the Sumas Facebook page about entering the contest on Hudson’s behalf, Liana was told the owners, the Rasode family, would happily donate one.

Which was how Calvin Rasode came to arrive at a house he’d never been to, with a gift for a child he didn’t know.

As it turned out, Calvin had something in common with Hudson.

Twenty years ago, he was a premature baby who had to spend a considerable amount of time at Children’s.

So when the Rasode family heard how another Children’s hospital kid had a wish they could fill, that was all they needed to know.

“The hospital is very close to our hearts,” Calvin said.

And so it was that Hudson made another trip to the Langley house with all the lights.

He’d been told a package was waiting for him and he had to pick it up in person.

Hudson arrived there with his parents, Graham and Voula, on Sunday (Nov. 27) to discover the package was a present, wrapped in shiny gold paper with a tartan bow.

The box was delivered by Calvin Rasode and presented by Liana and her son Hunter, who both dressed up as elves for the occasion.

Liana introduced herself as “Lucky” elf and proceeded to explain how Santa was taking a test flight in his sleigh when one of the presents accidentally fell out.

She said the gift was discovered by Calvin at the Sumas Liquor Store in Abbotsford, who noticed it was for Hudson.

Hudson could have it now, Liana said, so long as he promised to wait until Christmas to open it.

A smiling Hudson seemed fine with that.

His mom and dad looked happy, if a little dazed by the unexpected turn of events.

“It’s quite shocking, in a good way, actually,” Voula said.

Then everybody went outside to see the Christmas lights come on.

Hudson got to press the button that triggered more than 40,000 lights and animated Christmas characters in the front yard of the house at 20681 44 Ave.

All involved have only one request for anyone who reads this: if you know Hudson or happen to bump into him between now and Christmas, please don’t spoil the surprise by telling him what he’s getting.


The annual Christmas light display at 20681 44 Ave will run until Dec 31, from 5 p.m. to midnight each night, with donations accepted for BC Children’s Hospital.

Last year, it raised $2,700.

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