They say that Disneyland is “the happiest place on earth” and for one special day in October, it really was that happy place for Jadacey, Karter and several other children who experienced a trip of a lifetime. Dreams Take Flight, is a charitable organization that arranges trips to Disneyland for children with special needs. Through their connection to Matthew’s House, a respite home in Abbotsford, Jadacey, Karter and their caregivers were given the opportunity to go on this year’s trip.
For most families whose children live with complex care needs, the idea of traveling to Disneyland seems like an impossibility; there are too many challenges to overcome. It is for families like these that Dreams Take Flight exists. By taking care of all the details, the impossible becomes a reality.
“It was a life-altering day,” says Karter’s mom, Charlene who went along as his companion. “I never thought we’d be able to do something like this.”
It was a long, jam-packed day that began at 3:45 am in an Air Canada hangar in Vancouver. The children and caregivers were greeted by a Dreams Take Flight team dressed as Disney characters. Everyone received t-shirts that would make them easily identifiable and the children also received a number of gifts to make the day special, including a camera to record their trip. The group flew first class and Charlene says, they received first-class treatment all day long.
“I could not help but think about how each individual child on this plane was being treated like royalty,” she says. “The care and detail to make them feel special was amazing.”
Tamara is a staff person at Matthew’s House and traveled as Jadacey’s companion. She was also struck by the kindness and helpfulness of everyone involved.
“We had amazing support,” she says. “Even the Captain (of the airplane) helped carry Jadacey off the plane when we arrived in Los Angeles.”
When they arrived at Disneyland special arrangements were made to allow them to go to the front of the line for rides and photo ops with Disney characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse – a highlight for both Karter and Jadacey. Each child received a gift card so that they could buy a memento at the Disneyland gift shop. When they got on the plane for the return flight, a bag filled with toys was on each child’s seat. Arriving back home, they were greeted by police officers who gave each child a Dreams Take Flight medal to commemorate the day. Charlene says that it was obvious that every person involved in making this day special had the children at heart. She was overcome with thankfulness.
“For all the volunteers that spent countless hours throughout the year to make this day a reality, for all the sponsors and businesses that took a hand in putting this together, I thank you for making this day a once in a lifetime experience!” Charlene says.