When it is time to make dreams come true, Kelowna residents always give generously.
Papa John’s Dreams for Kids Day will be held today in support of The Sunshine Foundation of Canada. The aim is to raise $50,000 to fund the trip of a lifetime for Okanagan kids living with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.
It’s a lofty one-day goal, but one that organizers are confident they’ll meet.
“It’s by far the busiest day of the year —in fact, it’s one of the busiest days for Papa John’s in North America,” said Geoff Linquist, the president of the B.C. chain of Papa John’s restaurants.
Linquist has been feverishly preparing for the event that sends one hundred per cent of the pizza sale proceeds for the day to Sunshine Dream Programs.
“We actually bring some of our team members from the U.S., some from Vancouver and all hands on deck for all our staff in all our local stores,” Linquist said, adding that he’s learned a lot in the three years since they’ve taken on the event.
“The first year we didn’t have a goal, we just didn’t know what to expect and the community came out and supported it in a big way.”
It’s understandable support, he said. The fundraiser, which was previously held by another restaurant chain, has been going for over 20 years in the Okanagan and it affects everyone involved.
“Last year we met the families and the children going to Disneyland for the day at the airport,” he said, explaining that the event puts smiles on the kids, but also their whole families.
It’s an emotional trip for those co-ordinating the event as well.
So much so, that the Orange County Sheriff’s department, which escorts the Dream program participants in Disneyland, always sends representatives to the Okanagan for the event. There was one moment when they didn’t think they’d be participating anymore, but that’s when Papa John’s stepped in and it’s continued on as business as usual.
Nancy Sutherland is the Sunshine Foundation’s CEO said Papa John’s involvement allowed the charity to complete one program and maintain a community presence.
“This also drives a lot of awareness for Sunshine as a self-fund charity and these community initiatives and the funds raised are absolutely essential,” said Sutherland.
“The kids have to be brave and trusting of people to look after them and so do their parents because it’s hard to let a very vulnerable child with a lot of complex medical needs out of your sight. But because we have incredible partnerships with physicians and specialists who come on the plane, parents do give us their confidence and trust.”
Papa John’s Pizza locations in Kelowna and West Kelowna will join locations in Kamloops, Penticton and Prince George in participating.
The event gets underway at 10 a.m.