DreamLift Volunteer Shines
Sunshine Dream Lift Kelowna 2015
A letter from Caron, Sunshine DreamLift Volunteer:
“I just felt I needed to share my Dreamlift experience, words cannot truly explain how lucky I feel to have experienced this Day, and all those involved, a day to remember, truly amazing!”
Well, as I wake today after two hours of sleep I cannot stop thinking of the amazing last 48 hrs have been for me.
Tuesday night we are to meet all the families, volunteers, sponsors and the medical team that would be making the Dream Lift 2015 trip to Disneyland. Excited kids, anxious parents, the room was filled with a magical buzz. Home it was to try to get in a few winks before the alarm would blast, and off I would go to the airport to meet our excited group, about to take off for a day filled with only YES’s. Including cotton candy for breakfast I might add!
We finely all are called to pass through customs and yes some tears were shed with excitement and unknown, as for some kids this would be the first time away from parents and care givers. It soon faded as we are greeted with the cheerful Alaskan Airlines members, all festive for the season. With that we are off, with a loud cheer and breakfast is served. We soon arrive at John Wayne Airport and looking out the window is long line of Orange County Sheriffs and school busses, eager to meet there buddies for the day. We spot 4 sheriffs that have canine units with them; my buddie says to me “I hope that they get to come with us today!” As we unload and are paired up with our Sheriffs, the first thing we do is go over to meet all four of them. After talking with the Sheriffs I find out that this day is a very exciting day for them, they excitedly await to see who is chosen to have the honor of assisting the kids. “We start asking in October when can we apply?” I am told by one.
Then into bus #3 and off we go. We pass through the gate and a big group photo is taken and the day begins with a marching band performance with characters, then “ YES!” Cotton candy for breakfast!!!!!
First stop, Autopia! My buddies’ favorite ride!!! He drives with his sheriff and me with our medical nurse. We are laughing so hard and we laugh at all the others around us that are having just as much fun. We putter along, trying hard not to rear end the cars in front of us.
Next stop “It’s a Small World”; it was so magically transformed into festive holiday scenes from around the world. Because it’s our Dreamlift Day, we are gifted with a special “Genie Pass “which entitles us to jump the line and get on without having to wait!
Next it’s time for Mickey’s Toon Town for lunch, and of course finishing off a little more cotton candy. We get the best spot to eat lunch, in front row for some characters to come by. We see Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy and Daisy. We run to get some quick photos and dance along with Donald Duck.
All aboard for Disneyland Railway! We ride through the park and search for our little buddies’ next ride. After quick conversation with some Orange County Sheriffs on board it is decided that Jungle Adventureland would be our next stop. On our way, we ride King Arthur’s Carrousel, go and up and down on Dumbo the Flying Elephant and snap a quick photo with Jessie from Toy Story. Adventureland was a fun crazy ride! Our tour guide was so funny and it was quite the fun scene along the river. Apparently the decorations did not arrive so they animals and characters had decided to decorate themselves with last year’s decorations. Well it was a sight to see and quite a fun mess. Well done Jungle Adventure!!
Time to find some ice cream!!! Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlour was yummy. As we eating I spot that the parade has started off we go to sneak a peek through the crowds to see, The Princesses, Tiger, Pooh, Eeyore, Chip N Dale, Elsa, Anna, Pluto, Goofy, Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Santa and his Reindeer. Dusk is falling upon us and the day is winding down.
We ask our little buddies what next? It’s a Small World, please! And we got there just in time to watch the whole building come to live with Christmas light! So amazing! And we get our final ride of the day in. What a great way to end off our DreamLift Day, so festive and relaxing.
Back to the entrance to buy some last souvenirs and head to our bus. The big group begins to gather and we are on route to our next adventure, home.
After clearing customs at John Wayne Airport we board and sit for what seemed like forever. The captain announces that we need to wait for the fog to lift before we can take off, which did not and John Wayne Airport has a no fly curfew after 10.00pm. Supper was served on the plane and snacks, juice and water was passed out with extras for us to take just in case we need them for the kids when they wake up.
So then the magic happens and Sunshine and the Orange County Sheriffs go to work. I still am amazed at how this happened. 70+ kids each with one volunteer, medics and organizers, close to 190 bodies need to be transported to LA international Airport! I cannot thank the Sheriffs for coming back to help unload the plane which now has almost half the kids asleep, to be lifted off the plane into wheel chairs.
We then board onto, three awaiting luxury coaches. My little buddy is too tired to be woken up, so in comes a Sherriff with a smile on his face,
“No worries Ma'am I got him!” He carries him from the plane to a wheelchair, pushes him out to the coach, lifts him to his new seat on the coach and my buddie’s eyes just slightly open up and he gives the sheriff the biggest smile to say thank you!!! He melts my heart and the Sheriff’s too.
We had a police escort from John Wayne airport to LAX.
I am feeling very teary eyed at this moment at the amount of compassion that I am witnessing to get these kids home!
Before they actually realize that we have not even left the airport in Disneyland, sleepy eyed we arrive at LAX. Again emotion starts to take over as I look out and see yet again another group of Orange County Sheriffs and all the wheel chairs lined up ready to shuttle the kids in and through yet another customs screening.
We finally board the next plane that is to take us home to Kelowna. Yay!!! The organizers were amazing; the families had been notified that we are due to arrive at 6:15am. The Alaskan Airline staff is on board smiling looking fresh as a new day as they greet us once again and away we go. The kids are such troopers, going with the flow and we arrived safe and sound. Back in Kelowna, we met again the Kelowna Fire Fighters all ready at the plane door with smiles and wheel chairs, ready to deliver the kids to their awaiting parents for a long awaited hug.
I am feeling grateful for the day, all the new friendships and memories that were created. Big shout out to everyone that made this Dream come true for our precious kids! And to my two big buddies (volunteer teammates), Lorenzo and Kim, for the amazing fun filled day!
Caron, Sunshine DreamLift Kelowna 2015 Volunteer