Philip Mroz loves Barack Obama and Canadian Tire.
The 11-year-old Thunder Bay boy has autism and loves shopping at Canadian Tire so much that his older sister Chantelle wrote to the store’s head office and told them how Canadian Tire money is more exciting to her little brother than real money.
That convinced the corporate division to make Philip an ambassador for a day and gathered some gifts and an $80 gift card for Philip that were presented to him Thursday afternoon.
But when the Arthur Street Canadian Tire heard of Philip's story, they added to their corporate counterpart’s gift list, and chipped in to get the young outdoors enthusiast some gifts he could use when fishing and camping.
The gifts included an ice fishing shelter, an auger, a fishing rod, tackle, a four-man tent, a sleeping bag, a camping stove and even a brand new bicycle.
He also walked away with a large stack of Canadian Tire money and a few more gift cards for the store as well as an employee name tag.
Mayor Keith Hobbs and about 30 family members and friends came out to see Philip's big moment; he made sure to call as many people as he knew the night before to come see him receive a gift he thought would be a fishing rod.
"I think it was kind of awesome today," said Philip.
"I'm excited to get out and use it," he said of all his new outdoor gear.
Philip's mother Tamara Mroz said her son has been fascinated with Canadian Tire for years and she was surprised by how her daughter's email snowballed into something so big.
"It's amazing how many of his friends came out," she said.
Arthur Street Canadian Tire dealer Bruce Stone said everyone with the company was moved by Chantelle's email about her brother.
"It sort of took on a life of its own," he said.
"We all have lives outside the business and we care about things. This just seemed to touch a note with them and they were just so generous with a lot of the stuff," Stone said of his staff.
"We wanted it to be a day Philip would remember."
And when Philip turns 16, his employee ID card won't just be a novelty item.
"We will seriously consider finding him a spot in the store if it's OK with his parents," Stone said.
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