Wendy’s Dreamlift Day cancelled

End to popular Wendy's event that helped young people with physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses go to Disneyland.

A popular charity event that allowed local children with physical disabilities and life-threatening illnesses fly to Disneyland for a day of worry-free fun has been grounded.

Wendy’s Dreamlift Day fundraiser is over and it’s still unclear whether dollars raised in its name earlier this year will see any local kids get a chance to get aboard a plane and soar away to Disneyland.

The fundraiser has been a community staple for 20 years and saw Wendy’s restaurants in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Vernon and Penticton donate a day’s worth of profits and wages  to the Sunshine Foundation of Canada, which then sent Okanagan kids with a variety of challenges to Disneyland.

The last fundraiser raised $108,000 for the foundation, and a flight out of Kelowna, destined for Disneyland, was expected to be on the books for January 2015, given that flights have historically left the valley en route to Disneyland every second year and the last one happened in 2013. The Orange County Sherriff’s department, which lends members to help local kids as they disembark the planes for a Disney adventure, has indicated that they’ve been told that their help is not needed this year.

Sunshine Foundation of Canada representatives have failed to answer calls about this matter, however, a foundation communications officer  indicated to Capital News sister paper, the Vernon Morning Star, that something was in the works.

“Sunshine will continue to fulfill dreams for kids in the region and wishes Park Inland Restaurants success as they provide support for other deserving charities,” said Tristan Joseph, Sunshine Foundation of Canada communications officer.

“We certainly hope that there will be more Sunshine Dreamlifts serving kids in the Okanagan…At this point, we don’t have definitive information on when that might be. Sunshine will continue to fulfill individual dreams for kids in the Okanagan.”

As for the fundraiser, it will still happen, just for a different cause.

“Now it’s time to help out other groups in need,” said Wendy’s chain owner Ken Park.

“We are going to shift our charitable giving to align with the other 51 Wendy’s restaurants in B.C., the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.”

The foundation’s goal is to find “loving and permanent families for children who are lingering in the Canadian foster care system in B.C.”

Park said that as a father to two teenagers, the idea of children not having a home is particularly heart wrenching, and that’s why he’s shifting gears.

It’s still an unexpected shift.

When Park bought the restaurant chain from  John Tietzen, who founded Dreamlift Days in 1995, he said Dreamlift Day wasn’t going anywhere.

“I’m pretty comfortable because Ken wants to keep our legacies. He paid to keep the name Inland Restaurants. In our office we have a lot of historical pictures—he wants copies of all of those to be kept on the wall. He’s keeping all the staff, managers, regional office staff and area partners—the only person that’s leaving is me,” Tietzen said in 2012, noting that Dreamlift, in particular, was safe with Park.

“I think he’s very respectful of what we’ve built here and who we are.”

Park himself said that the community ties to the event were remarkable after witnessing his first Dreamlift Day.

“I spent the entire day watching, observing and learning. I thought: Wow, this is nothing like I’ve seen before…there is a lot of emotional attachment to this event,” Park told a Capital News reporter in 2013.

Park admits that he did say the tradition would carry on when he first took the company’s reins, but he doesn’t have any second thoughts about initiating the change, pointing out that the children that will be helped by the charity are also in the community.

“We remain focused and committed to giving to the community,” he said. “I hope our community still supports Wendy’s. We are still going to donate our wages, and have an event, we’re just giving to a different group. Without Kelowna’s support we can’t make the event successful.”.

Over its 20 year run the event raised over $1.4-million dollars, and enlisted the help of countless community members.

Kelowna Capital News

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
Injured mountain biker rescued in West Kelowna

The mountain biker reportedly has a hip injury about 1 km up the Smith Creek Road trail

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Asia Youngman (right) is pictured shooting another short film she wrote and directed titled Hatha. (Luba Popovic)
Peachland set to star in fantasy thriller film about N’xaxaitk’w — a.k.a. the Ogopogo

The film will follow an Indigenous teen as she navigates peer pressure, bullying and identity

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Gord with a mom and her young son outside Pathways which was defunded on May 31. (Facebook)
Gord Portman with a mom and her child outside of Pathways. The sign says it all about the difference Pathways has made in people’s lives. They were defunded by Interior Health on May 31.
Penticton man takes the plunge for the recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

Most Read