Turning Disneyland dreams into a reality

Today is the annual Disney Dreamlift day fundraiser sponsored by Papa John's Pizza outlets in the Central Okanagan and across B.C.

Orange County Sheriff's Department executive director Marilyn MacDougall and Commander Bob Peterson with a Papa John's 'pizza cookie.'

Today marks the second annual Papa John’s Pizza Dreams for Kids Day in support of the Disney Dreamlift experience for kids living with severe physical disabilities or life threatening illnesses.

Participating Papa John’s outlets in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Prince George and Kamloops will donate 100 per cent of the proceeds and the day’s staff wages to the Sunshine Foundation of Canada, the non profit organization that organizes the trips to Disneyland.

“We’ve been looking forward to this day all year,” said Geoff Linquist, owner of the Kelowna and West Kelowna Papa John’s franchises. “We’ve got extra drivers and store staff lined up and ready to turn pizzas into dreams for kids. It’s a really special event and it’s going to be a great day.”

Since its inception in 1987, more than 8,000 children across Canada have had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in a Disney Dreamlift adventure, flying to and from Los Angeles and visiting the Magic Kingdom in a whirlwind day of excitement.

On hand to support the Dreams For Kids Day again this year are representatives from the Orange Country Sheriff’s Department, executive director Marilyn MacDougall and Commander Bob Peterson.

The sheriff’s department plays a critical role in the Disney Dreamlifts, as some 80 volunteers from the department donate their time to meet the kids when they land in L.A. and escort the kids around Disneyland.

MacDougall said for her team of volunteers, the day can be both a rewarding and emotional experience, particularly when it comes to saying good-bye as the kids board the flight home.

“What we get back from that experience is far beyond what we donate,” MacDougall said, noting she usually has a list of more volunteers than is needed.

“And when we come here we see how the community here really rally behind this and definitely (Geoff Linquist) has his heart in the right place in his dedication to raising money for this cause.”

The Papa John’s Pizza outlets are located in Kelowna at 1959 Harvey Ave. and in West Kelowna at 2483 Main St. Pizza orders can be made at either restaurant or online at PapaJohns.com.