Dio Gama's baseball dream is becoming a reality after all — just when it looked like the 13-year-old baseball star wouldn't be donning the maple leaf at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Earlier this week, CBC Sports reported the young baseball player wouldn't be able to join Whalley's Little League team due to immigration issues.
Gama was born in Las Vegas and has American citizenship. His parents are Mexican. Their latest application for Canadian refugee status is under review, prompting their lawyer to advise the family that Dio shouldn't leave the country for fear he wouldn't be let back in.
But on Wednesday evening, the Gama family received a letter saying Dio would be able to go after all.
Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is granting Dio a temporary resident permit in order to allow him to play with his team.
"I feel amazing. I am really blessed and so thankful for everyone who helped make this happen" Dio said from his home in Surrey.
"I can't believe it. I can't wait to be with my team. Thank you."
Noe Gama, Dio's father, says a lot of credit has to go to their local Member of Parliament for making this happen.
"I'm so happy that I could help pick up the 100 pieces of my son's heart that broke when he thought he couldn't play. Thank you to the wonderful people of Canada," Noe said.
Meeting with their MP
Earlier in the week, Noe and Dio visited Liberal MP for Fleetwood — Port Kells, Ken Hardie, trying everything they could to get Dio to Williamsport.
Hardie put his employees to work, leveraging his office to urge Ottawa to get Dio to the Little League World Series.
Dio Gama has been advised against leaving Canada to join his B.C. teammates in Pennsylvania for fear he won't be allowed back in the country. 1:13
"We don't ask anybody to make an exception, we just look to see if there's something we can do within the rules that exist," Hardie said.
"This is a great ending. Somewhat of a Disney story. The Minister's staff went above and beyond to make this happen."
Joining his team in Williamsport
It's been Dio's lifelong dream to make it to the Little League World Series. His coach Mike Marino calls Dio the team's leader.
In the national championship game in Mirabel, Que., last weekend, Dio had two triples and four RBIs to help Whalley capture the title by defeating Glace Bay, N.S., 11-0.
Glace Bay LL (Atlantic) vs. Whalley LL (B.C.) Final at the 2018 Canadian Little League Championship 1:39:46
During that game Dio knew there was a chance he wouldn't be going to Williamsport, yet seemed unaffected by it.
Marino said it shows just how much courage and poise the young athlete has.
The team opens up the Little League World Series Friday night at 6 p.m. ET against Panama.
Dio and Noe say they're looking at a late flight from Vancouver Thursday night to Pennsylvania. Dio would arrive in Williamsport Friday morning having flown through the night.
That's not a concern for the young slugger, who says he doesn't care if he's a little tired. He's now playing the game he loves at the Little League World Series for the country he says he couldn't have done this without.
"All I can say is thank you. Thank you for making my dream come true."
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