Elijah Dyck, 2, and mom and dad Lindsay and Jason are all smiles after eating at the Wendy's on Harvey Avenue in Kelowna during the 19th annual Dreamlift Day. All net proceeds from the day's sales at the nine participating Wendy's, including staff, management and owner's wages, will go towards the next B.C. Interior Dreamlift to Disneyland, tentatively scheduled for December.
In a matter of minutes, three families with offspring who went on a Dreamlift to Disneyland were gushing about their children's and their grandchildren's adventures in the Magic Kingdom.
And they didn't care that they were all standing in long lineups for the 19th annual Wendy's Dreamlift Day to raise money for another special-needs flight to Disneyland in December.
Joshua Dyck, who turns 10 in February, still talks about his Dreamlift in 2011, said his father, Jason Dyck. Joshua Dyck is a quadriplegic after a car accident at the age of three.
"He was still pretty wired when I picked him up at the airport at 12:30 a.m.," recalled Jason Dyck. "He was telling me about all the rides that they helped him get on. He had a couple of volunteers with him and a couple of others that tagged along, so he had quite the crowd around him. He got a lot of attention and he was quite excited about that."
The Dyck family has supported Wendy's Dreamlift Day for years, but Joshua's Dreamlift to Disneyland gave it so much more significance.
"It just so happened that he could be a part of it, too. It's kind of interesting how it works out," said Jason Dyck.
"You brave the crowds. It's no big deal. It helped him get out for the day and not to have to worry about anything else. He still talks about it and wants to go again. One day, we'll get everybody to go."
Joshua's stepmother, Lindsay, added: "He was pretty excited about it. He got to go to the front of the lineups for rides."
Joshua couldn't attend Dreamlift Day this year because he is recovering from kidney surgery.
Gordon Lahue's two children also participated in Dreamlifts: Vernita Lahue, now 24, went 10-12 years ago, and Jordan Foster, now 16, went three years ago.
"Jordan still has pictures with the policewoman from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. He wears his Dreamlift T-shirt to school sometimes. My older daughter still talks about it; she still has the souvenirs," said Gordon Lahue.
"That's why I come out here every year to give a little bit more," said Lahue. "It's really wonderful for the special-needs children."
Margaret Swabey's granddaughter, Kirbey Swabey, now 28, was one of the first Dreamlift children - in the 1990s. So, Margaret and husband Ted have been part of Wendy's Dreamlift Day for 17 or 18 years.
"She was full of Mickey Mouse when she came back. She enjoyed it. It's very touching. I had never heard of Wendy's Dreamlift Day until she went, but we've supported it ever since."
Sandra Jennens heard about Dreamlift to Disneyland from Vernon journalist Richard Rolke and wanted to support the Sunshine Foundation of Canada, which organizes the one-day adventures.
"He talked about what a great experience it was - life-affirming. That was an incentive. We met some of the fellows from the police force in Orange County last year and the year before. It's just a nice thing to come and support," said Jennens.
From 6 a.m. to closing Wednesday, the nine Wendy's restaurants in the Southern Interior donated all of the net proceeds from the day's sales, plus staff, management and owners' wages, to the Sunshine Foundation of Canada.
Local celebrities, dignitaries, RCMP members, former Wendy's staff, sports and service organizations, and six representatives of the Orange County Sheriff's Department in California joined restaurant staff preparing and serving meals.
Last year's Wendy's Dreamlift Day raised $114,276, bringing the 18-year total to $1.1 million. This year's fundraising total should be revealed today.