Marilyn MacDougall and Bob Peterson, of the Orange Country, California Sheriffs Department, will be among those participating in today's Dreamlift Day at Wendy's restaurants in the Southern Interior.
Marilyn MacDougall and Bob Peterson plan to be in the middle of the action as a mammoth fundraiser is staged at Wendy's restaurants to help send ill or specially-challenged kids to Disneyland.
"It's very heart-warming and fulfilling to be part of this day," MacDougall said Tuesday. "To see the spirit of the community express itself like this, it's just incredible."
All proceeds from the day's sales - as well as staff and management wages - go toward the Sunshine Dreams for Kids Foundation. Community volunteers also help out, taking orders, preparing the food and serving meals.
Since its inception, the popular program has raised more than $1.2 million at nine Wendy's restaurants in the B.C. Interior. Dozens of local children enjoyed a trip to Disneyland just before last Christmas in a Dreamlift operation.
Representatives from the sheriff's department usually attend Dreamlift Day to help with publicity, but also to let parents know their children will be in good hands if they make a future Dreamlift trip to Disneyland.
That's because sheriffs accompany the kids, from the moment their plane lands at the airport right to the time of their departure home.
"I want parents here to have the chance to see the faces of the people they'll be entrusting their kids to," Peterson said.
At Disneyland, the kids get a special pass to go to the front of the lines for all the rides.
"They'll probably see twice as much of Disneyland as they otherwise would," Peterson said.
All the kids, regardless of their abilities, are given wheelchairs to use while in Disneyland.
That helps them maximize their time, but it's also a recognition of the fact that the kids can tucker out toward the end of the whirlwind day.
Peterson, an amiable sheriff who has assisted before at other Dreamlifts, jokes that he likes to ensure the kids he escorts around the park get from one attraction to another as quickly as possible.
"If you have Captain Bob pushing your wheelchair," he says, "that's going to be a ride in itself."