79 Children from Brantford, Hamilton, and Waterloo Region Will Get Their First Taste of Independence on the 62nd Sunshine DreamLift
On May 2nd 2017, The Sunshine Foundation of Canada will take 79 children living with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses on its 62nd Sunshine DreamLift. Taking off from John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, a plane full of children from Brantford, Hamilton and Waterloo Region will experience the life-changing adventure of a whirlwind trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL and back home - all in just one day.
A Sunshine DreamLift is a day of “Yes” for kids living with complex medical needs to just be kids in the happiest place on earth. Accompanied by a caring network of medical and community volunteers and support staff, Sunshine DreamLift is often a child’s first time away from their parents, a first plane ride, and an opportunity to guide their own day their way, navigating the wonders of Disney.
“This is our 62nd Sunshine DreamLift,” says Nancy Sutherland, CEO for The Sunshine Foundation of Canada, “and the magic of the day never fails to fill our hearts. To see the smiles of our young dreamers, and hear their laughter as they experience a newfound sense of independence, as they make new friends, and as they create memories that will last a lifetime, is to see first-hand the life-changing impact of dreams. At Sunshine, we exist to ensure children living with severe physical disabilities dream big and dream bold, and have the opportunity to build confidence.”
Children participating in this Sunshine DreamLift program have been referred by medical professionals and healthcare workers from McMaster Children’s Hospital, KidsAbility, Lansdowne Children’s Centre, CNIB and The Ear and Hearing Clinic with Julianne Shantz. Medical support volunteers, healthcare workers, and emergency service personnel will accompany the flight to provide specialized medical care and physical assistance for children to get safely on and off the plane and the rides at Disney, but also to be buddies for the children during their magical day of “Yes!”
"As a clinician who has been involved in the referral process, I have been very impressed with how organized the Sunshine staff are and how hard they work to make sure each child and volunteer is valued and is prepared to participate in the DreamLift," says Andrea Morrison, OT Reg.(Ont.) of the Children's Developmental Rehabilitation Programme at McMaster Children's Hospital. "It's a wonderful experience to be a part of!"
This 62nd Sunshine DreamLift is made possible by the generous contributions and volunteer commitment of local Brantford and region businesses and community partners. This “Dream Team” of leadership sponsors includes RBC Royal Bank, S.C. Johnson Ltd., Brantford Professional Fire Fighters Association, Brantford Expositor, and Sofina Foods Inc., in addition to community supporters Speed Fastening Systems Inc., Conestoga College Pre-Service Firefighters, and Conestoga College Police Foundations program.
Once in the U.S. at Orlando International Airport, the Sunshine DreamLift is greeted on the tarmac by long-time DreamLift supporters, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office of Orlando, as well as volunteers from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Air Marshall’s Service (FAMS) who become VIP hosts and provide physical assistance for the children and support to their matched volunteer buddy.
“It takes a village to send a plane full of children to the Magic Kingdom and back in one day,” says Sutherland. “We are honoured to have such a dedicated and wide reaching network of support to make this DreamLift a reality.”
Follow our magical day of "Yes!" on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @SunshineFound #SunshineDreamLift.