It’s been eight years, but Daniel Reimer still keeps the autograph book from his trip to Disney World with Dreams Take Flight by his bed.
"I couldn’t believe I was actually there," he says. "There was just so much excitement."
Reimer lives with Arthrogryposis, a condition children are born with which causes stiffness in joints throughout the body, according to the website of The Hospital for Sick Children, located in Toronto. When he was eight years old, he was selected by the Muscular Dystrophy Association to be one of the first kids to take part in Dreams Take Flight.
Dreams Take Flight is a one-day trip to Disney World for children who are physically, mentally or socially challenged. It’s a day for them to just be a kid and have fun, without worrying about their usual daily challenges.
The next flight, coming up in April 2014, will mark the Winnipeg chapter’s 20th
It’s organized and fundraised for by Air Canada employees, both current and retired, and Air Canada donates the aircraft, while other businesses help cover other costs.
"The best part was meeting other kids in the same situation," says Reimer, who is now 16 and a student at Collège Churchill High School. "It was nice to be included in a group."
Around 135 kids are on each flight, as well as a number of caregivers and chaperones. The whole day is a celebration. The airport is decorated, flight attendants dress up and play games with the kids during the flight, and the day’s entire focus is on having fun.
Mira Hummerson worked for Air Canada for 34 years, and is now a volunteer with Dreams Take Flight. For her, seeing the look on children’s faces after their day at Disney World is what makes the task of volunteering worth it.
"You can just tell when they’re thinking about the day they just had," she says. "You can see the pleasure on their faces. They have a twinkle in their eye as they sit there thinking about it."
"For us, as fundraisers, that’s just precious. It makes us feel good to see that dreamy look."
On Aug. 15, the group is having a barbecue, sponsored by and located at a business that’s been with them since the beginning — Family Foods at 1099 St. Mary’s Rd.
Between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m., all proceeds from the sale of the donated food will go towards Dreams Take Flight.
The group is also having other fundraising events in the month of September. More
information is available on the group’s website at http://www.ywg.dreamstakeflight.ca