It will be a day to remember for the lucky children who are flying to Florida for a day trip at Walt Disney World Tuesday.
It’s part of the Sunshine Foundation‘s 63rd annual DreamLift.
In all, 80 children from the London area flew out of London International Airport early Tuesday, along with volunteers from the Sunshine Foundation. The kids are paired with a volunteer buddy for the day.
CEO of the Sunshine Foundation, Nancy Sutherland, says it’s a chance for children living with various challenges to go somewhere and experience something they might not otherwise get the opportunity to do.
“They will go off in their groups and do whatever the child wants to do. It’s all about being a child led day,” Sutherland says.
“If they want to go on rides right away, go on the same ride over and over again, or maybe they want to eat cotton candy before lunch, whatever it is they want, that’s what it’s about.”
Myles Ntwari is nine years old and has loved Disney movies for as long as he can remember. He is looking forward to his first visit to Walt Disney World.
“I’m a huge Disney fan, I like Lilo and Stich, I like Winnie the Pooh, I like a lot of Disney movies.”
His mother, Jodi Ntwari, is excited for her son’s big day.
“It’s a great opportunity for him to leave us and enjoy this with all the other kids, where the day is all about him and everything he wants,” Jodi said.
“Disney is a wonder magical place, and that is what Myles is, too. He’s a magical kid and we love him very much.”
Jodi says they found out in January that Myles had been accepted for the Disney trip, but held off telling him until closer to the date. She says he hasn’t stopped talking about it.
Daryl Pittman, who is volunteering with Sunshine Foundation, helped out with a trip in Florida back in 2013. It left such an impression that it prompted him to get a tattoo to mark the occasion.
Pittman says the day is all about the kids.
“Just to see the look on their face is everything,” he says. “It’s a life-changing experience to be able to do something like this.”
Dr. Rod Lim, site chief of the Paediatric Emergency Department at the Children’s Hospital, is one of the volunteers providing medical support.
“These are children who have unfortunately suffered a lot of challenges that most of us won’t experience in our entire lives,” Lim said.
“We’re here to ensure everything goes smoothly. There are a lot of talented people here with police, firefighters, and other members at the hospital, and we’re so excited to help out with this incredible cause.”
All 80 kids are from the London area, and use the services at the Thames Valley Children’s Centre.
After a fun-filled day at Disney, the group is scheduled to arrive back at the London International Airport just after midnight.