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Sheriffs proud to be part of Wendy's Dreamlift Day
They might be coming into weather up to 40 degrees cooler than what they’re used to; however, members of the Orange County Sheriff's Department are looking forward to making the trip up north to help out with Wendy's Dreamlift Day 2012 on Jan.25.
Five sheriffs and two individuals from the Orange County Sheriff's Advisory Council will be making the trip up to B.C.'s interior to witness the fundraising event and meet the people behind Dreamlift Day.
Lieutenant Bill Griffin, a 25-year-old veteran who is chief of police services for Laguna Woods, will be making his second Dreamlift Day appearance.
"My first experience was a couple years ago. We flew into Kelowna and then the RCMP (took) me out to Kamloops. I had a tremendous time," said Griffin.
Griffin said he was amazed by the participation of the community.
"Once they open up it's one long line supporting the cause. People would come back for three meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner."
He said he was impressed to see the families of kids who had gone on previous Dreamlift trips still supporting the cause.
Griffin has seen both sides of the Dreamlift process: The fundraiser and the trip to Disneyland. The whole concept of the fundraiser is one that hits home for him as his 19-year-old son, Ben, has Autism.
"My son can't talk when he goes to Disneyland. He doesn’t need to talk; he just enjoys it immensely. It's the same with these kids," said Griffin.
"A lot of (the children) are in wheelchairs and you would think that Disneyland might be problematic, but it's not . . . they are smiling from the beginning of the day until you get them back on the plane.
"And all of this is paid for by people going to Wendy's on Dreamlift Day."
The sheriffs will likely be busy for most of Jan. 25. Griffin said he's prepared to flip burgers, hand out stickers and meet the community who makes this event possible.
This year the Dreamlift Day fundraiser will surpass the $1 million mark. To take in the special occasion, Wendy Thomas—daughter of the late Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's Restaurant—will be visiting the region to show her support for the effort.
"She's a national figure. From what I've read of her father, (the family is) very big into giving back to the community."
In a phone interview with Wendy Thomas last week, she indicated that she would love to accompany the kids on the Dreamlift trip someday.
If she did, she might have an experience similar to Griffin's.
"This year I walked with a young man by the name of Gregory from Penticton. When we were on Small World, just riding through the ride and seeing his face—it will last with (me) for a lifetime.
"The Sheriff's Department is very appreciative for being a part of this."