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On the last Wednesday of April, a flight was going to take a group of very special kids to Disney World.
The trip, organized by non-profit Dreams Take Flight, was a once-in-lifetime chance for those kids. COVID-19 cancelled that trip.
For the 140 Atlantic Canadian children scheduled to be on that flight, this crushed their dreams. Some had never been on a plane before; others had never been out of their province before. Some would otherwise never have the chance to afford a trip to Disney World.
“The kids were quite understanding that this year’s trip had to be put off until at least next year,” says Giacomo Bruno of Dreams Take Flight, Halifax. “Though deep down, some may have felt a little disappointed.”
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Each year, the Dreams Take Flight Halifax chapter takes kids from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador to Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
The children chosen have challenges that may be medical, mental, physical or emotional. Dreams Take Flight’s mission is to provide them with a chance to escape from their day-to-day reality and improve their self-esteem.
Although Dreams Take Flight gets support from its corporate sponsors like Air Canada, which donates an aircraft for the 24-hour trip, the organization relies on its fundraising dollars to go toward fuel for the plane, airport fees and taxes. Money raised also pays for the day’s expenses, including admission to the park, food, souvenirs and a new head-to-toe outfit for each child.
Since launching in 1989, Dreams Take Flight has been 100 per cent volunteer-run and all money raised through their nationwide fundraising events goes directly to the children they help.
When provinces started to declare a state of emergency, not only were trips to Walt Disney parks postponed, but all fundraising events were too.
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“The inability to fundraise is most certainly our biggest challenge during this pandemic,” Bruno says.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer with Dreams Take Flight is encouraged to connect with the organization once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
In the meantime, they are asking the public to save recyclables for a bottle drive fundraiser they’re hosting. They’re offering to pick up your collected recyclables (once it’s OK to do so) and 100 per cent of the proceeds will go to making local kids’ dreams come true.
“We hope that once the time is right, people will help us reach our fundraising goals by attending our events, buying tickets for our draws and help us make magical memories for deserving children.”
For information on volunteering with Dreams Take Flight and their bottle drive fundraiser, visit their Facebook page.
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