Disneyland dream becomes a reality

Gathered in West Kelowna, Sunshine Foundation makes a wish come true for a local family

Alia Essington will soon be enjoying her dream trip to Disneyland thanks to the Sunshine Foundation.

Alia, along with her family and friends, gathered at the West Kelowna Winners Sunday to celebrate her surprise dream trip that her parents kept secret.

“Alia loves everything Frozen,” Bev Kenzie, a volunteer with the Sunshine Foundation, said in a presentation. “In fact she dresses as Anna or Elsa, or some days she changes from one outfit into the other. She’s been asking her parents for a chance to visit Disneyland so she can visit Anna and Elsa at their castle.”

Alia was born with a genetic disorder and has lately been in the hospital for illnesses such as pneumonia, which has delayed the surprise Disneyland trip. She can move under her own power, but uses a stroller for longer walks that she will use for the trip.

As Alia mingled with family, Disney princesses Anna and Elsa themselves arrived for the surprise, as Alia yelled, “Anna!” and approached her Disney idols.

Once the PA revealed the secret Disneyland surprise trip, Alia was too stunned to react, but once she approached a big box full of travel bags and other Frozen goodies for the trip, she screamed in joy and excitement for what is to come. Alia and her family were scheduled to leave for Disneyland Tuesday.

“She’s infatuated with Frozen and Elsa and Anna and she really wanted to go see their castle,” said Alia’s father Chris Essington. “It should be amazing; I am so excited for her. I can’t believe it.”

While Alia may be the most excited, the family is certainly looking forward to the trip to California.

“It’s heart melting,” Chris said. “It’s just amazing.”

“It brought tears to my eyes, it really did,” Kenzie said. “It sounds like she’s been through quite a bit with her health, and to see a young child with a life-threatening illness and disability to fulfill their dream, what happier thing is there?”

Canadians throughout Canada can request a dream from the Sunshine Foundation. The request goes to a committee in Ontario where they work with six to seven families at a time to help fulfill the wishes of the children.

In October, the Sunshine Foundation helped another Okanagan girl, Elise Boisvert, achieve her dream of a Caribbean cruise where she can swim in warm waters that eases her severe joint pain.

Since 1987, Sunshine has fulfilled dreams for over 8,000 Canadian kids living with disabilities or illnesses.

Since the partnership began, Winners and HomeSense customers and associates have raised over $8.6 million for Sunshine.

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