A special day for a “special” boy

Love and support filled the halls of Pinewood Public School Friday. 

To hear Madison Rollin talk about Pinewood, that love is always there, so maybe the East End school, its staff and its students, simply found a new way to demonstrate it.

Madison Rollin is the mother of five-year-old Memphis Rollin, who has been battling illness since birth. Memphis was the guest of honour at a surprise Super Hero event in Pinewood’s gymnasium just after 11 a.m. 

Memphis, a Sr. Kindergarten student at Pinewood, is fighting Goldenhar syndrome, a rare disorder that’s present at birth, but also Arnold-Chiari malformation and chronic kidney disease. The little guy has been through a lot, says Mom, and missed out on birthdays, holiday gatherings and days to be just a regular kid, free to play with his friends.

He’s described as a real trooper, with a sweet, friendly disposition. He’s the kid everyone in the school knows, likes and loves. It was all very much in evidence Friday whether Memphis was posing with teachers or city police, talking to Sault Mayor Matthew Shoemaker, all the while clutching and hugging a stuffed lion, one of the gifts he pulled from a gift box earlier in the morning.

So it’s only fitting Memphis received a hero’s welcome, a quite loud ovation, when he strolled onto a red carpet and into the bright lights of Pinewood’s gym. 

School staff and students were dressed up as super heroes, with Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Captain America and a host of other heroes on hand, including many members of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services.

The surprise fundraiser, largely organized by Madison, will help offset the cost of the Rollin’s trips to and from Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital. Blue Memphis’ Wish t-shirts were on sale.

Madison says at one time, Memphis had to travel to Sick Kids three to four times a month. Now, his travels to Toronto are down to about one week, once a month. In April, he’ll undergo complete reconstruction of his jaw.

Students wrote papers to Memphis and the writings and photos from the day will go into scrapbooks. Madison couldn’t thank Pinewood and the Algoma District School Board enough.

“This school has been unreal, I couldn’t ask for a better school,” said Madison. “I’m so happy that the school and the ADSB did this and is giving me ideas for scrapbooks and stuff. Although he’s going through such a rough time most of the time, we have that to look forward to…to read and to talk about and to just know that there’s so many people supporting him. And the fact that the school went above and beyond and purchased the shirts that we have for sale. It’s unreal to know that they’re supporting us.”

Christine Hutton, Memphis’ teacher, had plenty of praise for Memphis.

“Memphis is such a special boy,” said Hutton. “Every day he comes in with a smile on his face. He perseveres. All of the challenges he’s had to overcome, you would never know that. He’s helpful. His friends think he is kind, brave and honest. Those are the words they used this morning, and they do call him their hero. He’s just the sweetest boy.”

Cindy Aube, an Educational Assistant, said the surprise Super Hero event suited Memphis perfectly. 

“He’s just an amazing individual. He deserves all the wonderful in the world.

Later in the morning, toward Noon, Memphis and his Dad, Adam, gently placed his gifts back in the box for safe keeping. When they were done, Mom held a microphone in front of Memphis, who said loudly, “Thank You!” sparking another ovation. 

The stuffed lion did not get gently placed in the box with the other gifts, remaining tucked, most securely, under one loving arm. 

One lion met another and a bond was born.

It really was a special day for a very special boy, with more fun on the horizon.

The Rollin family, parents Madison and Adam, son Memphis and his little sister, Emaleena, are off to Walt Disney World Feb. 19, courtesy of the Make a Wish Foundation.

They’ll stay at Give Kids The World, a resort for Make a Wish Families. Their trip will include three VIP days at Disney, two days at Universal and a day at Sea World.


  • Ron Jokelainen

    Ron has returned to writing and reporting after 27 years with Ontario Lottery & Gaming. He began as a staff writer with OLG in 1994 before moving to Sports Marketing in 1997. He retired as a Senior sports analyst in 2021. Prior to OLG, Ron worked in radio and print journalism in the Sault and Simcoe. Folks may remember Ron "Williams" with CFYN-CHAS in the early 90s A graduate of Windsor's St. Clair College Journalism program, Ron lists drumming, gardening and walking among his favourite hobbies.

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