OTTAWA, April 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - 80 children from the Ottawa-Gatineau region are on their way to Walt Disney World today, thanks to the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. The kids, who range from age 7 to 17, are all living with either a severe physical disability or life-threatening illness. This one-day adventure is called a DreamLift, and it is the 50th such outing organized by Sunshine since it was founded in 1987. As part of this special anniversary year, the foundation is launching DreamLifts from Ottawa, Halifax and Vancouver.
The DreamLift offers a taste of independence for boys and girls whose disabilities and illnesses include cerebral palsy, congenital heart defects, and cancer. For many, it is their first plane ride or their first day away from their parents. Some have never been able to travel due to their daily treatments, special feeding requirements or the physical challenges involved in their day-to-day care.
"We're absolutely thrilled to be back in Ottawa for this milestone. Our local volunteers are almost as excited as the kids," said Nancy Sutherland, National Executive Director of the Sunshine Foundation. To ensure the children are well cared-for, volunteer "buddies" from the healthcare community, the RCMP, and DreamLift sponsors are travelling with them today. "It's fantastic to see all the kids ready to go. This is going to be a great adventure for them," said Steve Fletcher, Executive Director of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA) and the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC). Both OARA and ARC are sponsoring today's DreamLift through their vehicle retirement programs such as Car Heaven and Retire Your Ride.
The children were greeted at the Ottawa Mcdonald-Cartier International Airport by Colonel Robert Walker of the Department of National Defence, members of the Ottawa Police Service, and RCMP Officers in Red Serge ceremonial uniform. According to RCMP Superintendant Greg Peters: "The RCMP is proud to be involved in DreamLift as it matches perfectly with our Mission, Vision and Values, especially our commitment to our communities and to the respectful treatment of all people. We are pleased that we will be playing a part in helping these kids take advantage of as many adventures as possible while at Walt Disney World, as this one-day experience will create lifetime memories for the kids and remain etched in the hearts of our volunteer members."
In Florida, volunteers from the Orange County Sheriff's Office will meet the plane and help the kids get around Disney until they return home tonight at midnight." Today is their day," said Sutherland, "they get to decide where to go and what to do, and just be kids for the day."
ABOUT THE SUNSHINE FOUNDATION OF CANADA
The Sunshine Foundation of Canada is the only national Canadian charity that makes dreams come true for children who are challenged by severe physical disabilities as well as life-threatening illnesses. 80% of the kids who receive Sunshine Dreams have severe physical disabilities. Dream requests range from family trips to celebrity meetings, and gifts like computers and customized bicycles. Sunshine Dreams allow children to escape from the daily regimen and challenges of living with a severe physical disability or life-threatening illness. Founded in London, Ontario by a police officer who lost his teenaged son to muscular dystrophy, Sunshine now has volunteer chapters across Canada. 2012 marks the foundation's 25th Anniversary. Sunshine has fulfilled dreams for more than 7,000 children. For more information, visit www.sunshine.ca
SOURCE Sunshine Foundation of Canada
Image with caption: "Sunshine kids and volunteers excited to board the DreamLift plane to Disney World. This is the 50th DreamLift organized by Sunshine since it was founded in 1987. This DreamLift is sponsored by OARA and ARC. (CNW Group/Sunshine Foundation of Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120424_C8488_PHOTO_EN_12667.jpg