With wildfires closing in, Ayden McKillop left his hometown of Osoyoos, B.C., for Surrey with his grandparents and couldn't spend his seventh birthday with his dad who had to stay in town to work
But, with a little creativity, the B.C. boy still managed to make his big day a meaningful one.
Under his grandfather's tutelage, McKillop designed a T-shirt — featuring a helicopter with a water bucket flying over Osoyoos.
Ayden's father Andrew ー an employee of the Town of Osoyoos's emergency operations centre ー says the design was inspired by the photos he sent to his son while staying behind to work on the wildfire emergency.
The Nk'Mip Creek wildfire north of Osoyoos has been growing with no end in sight since it sparked last Monday. The elder McKillop says he asked his family to move to Metro Vancouver, even though their homes aren't under evacuation order or alert.
After seeing the pictures from Osoyoos, he says Ayden painted a T-shirt as a sort of therapy, because they reminded him of a recent fire at his own home.
"He became quite concerned ー his concern was mainly due to the fact that we had a [house] fire four months ago," McKillop said Monday to Sarah Penton, the host of CBC's Radio West. "Ever since then, he's been quite upset [with] anything to do with fire."
McKillop says Ayden also created the T-shirt out of respect for firefighters.
The younger Ayden says he really likes what he has done, but he wishes he could have designed the shirt with his father.
"I was a little bit sad and a little bit mad, and I really wanted to do all that stuff with my dad," the boy told Penton from Surrey. "We couldn't do it because of the fire getting bigger and bigger."
The boy's creative endeavour went viral on social media when his father posted photos to Facebook two days after his son's birthday.
For anyone who is interested, McKillop says, he will print and sell 100 of them with the proceeds going to a local charity.
"I'm very proud of my son," he said. "It's supporting his idea, but it's also supporting what everybody is doing for the community."
Tap the link below to hear Andrew McKillop and Ayden McKillop's interview on Radio West: