TRURO – The number 51 means a lot to Lloyd Berliner.
It represents the number of dreams he’s helped make come true for children with life-threatening illnesses in Colchester County through 22 years of service with the Children’s Wish Foundation.
“They’re all special,” said Berliner, a 49-year-old Bible Hill resident and lawyer at Patterson Law in Truro.
The only number that dwarfs the wishes he’s helped grant is the countless hours he’s spent since 1990 to make them come true.
Because of that effort, Berliner was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal on Tuesday in a surprise ceremony at his Church Street office. His family, friends and co-workers attended the event to help celebrate the achievement.
Berliner was one of just 60 people across the country presented with a medal by the foundation, and one of just two in Nova Scotia.
“I’m actually speechless, lost for words,” he said with a smile. “It’s a nice recognition but I don’t work toward medals or honours. We just work at it because it’s the right thing to do.”
He wasn’t the only one lost for words. Cheryl Matthews, director of the Nova Scotia chapter of the foundation, had a difficult time describing just how much Berliner and his efforts have meant to the organization.
“Words don’t really describe it to be honest,” she said. “Wishes just wouldn’t happen without him. He’s put us on the map in Truro, Nova Scotia and Canada because of the things he’s done.”
Berliner joined the organization when there was only a Halifax chapter in Nova Scotia. He was instrumental in opening a sub chapter in Truro and helped organize the first Walk for Wishes, which has since become a mainstay fundraiser among the foundation’s groups across the country.
Aside from his work in Colchester, Berliner was also a big influence on the provincial scene, having served as chair of the provincial body, and held the treasurer’s position on the national board of directors.
“There’s nobody more deserving,” Matthews said. “He was such a natural choice. He’s helped it grow from the beginning.”
But what pushes him to devote so much time and effort? Berliner doesn’t take long to answer that question.
“The stories,” he said. “I know for the families in speaking with them afterwards it means a lot because they're able to forget about hospitals, IV’s and things like that and just go out and have fun as a family. Some children who have passed, their families will always have that memory and seeing the happiness and joy in a child that may not have had the happiest childhood like children should have.”
Now that Berliner is married to his wife Cathy and has two daughters in 12-year-old Jasmine and Sascha, 10, he knows the importance of spending quality time with family first hand.
“I've involved our children in the fundraising so they know what it's all about,” he said. “Because it's important for them to know.”
Berliner has no plans to slow his work.
“As long as I have the drive to do it I certainly hope to continue because I know it means a lot to families.”
FLAG: Berliner file
Name: Lloyd Berliner
Lives: Bible Hill
Award: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
Achievements: Instrumental in opening Children’s Wish Foundation sub chapter in Truro; helped grant 51 wishes; served as chair of the provincial foundation; served as treasurer of Canadian foundation.