A local pizza chain donated staff wages and the sales of thousands of pizzas Wednesday to make kids’ dreams come true.
Papa John’s Pizza held its second annual Dreams for Kids Day in support of the Sunshine Foundation’s Dreamlift Day, which flies kids with life-threatening conditions to Disneyland for the day and makes other dreams, such as family vacations or meeting celebrities, come true.
Papa John’s, whose five participating outlets are in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Kamloops and Prince George, took over from Wendy’s as partner to the Sunshine Foundation last year.
“We’re at least as busy as last year from what I can see and, hopefully, execution-wise, we’ll do a little better than last year,” said Scott Patten, director of operations for Papa John’s Pizza.
Last year, Papa John’s raised just over $43,000 on Dreams for Kids Day.
“We’re crossing our fingers and hoping we can at least surpass that and, hopefully, raise around $50,000 this year,” said Patten.
Orders for pizzas started at 7 a.m. Wednesday, he said.
“We opened the doors at 10 o’clock, and, at 10 o’clock, we had approximately 145 to 150 pizzas already in the queue that we had to make, and it just keeps going,” he said.
“Today, in this store, we will sell the equivalent of one week of sales; it’s all people coming out and saying they want to help the kids.”
The support from the community has been incredible the last two years, said Patten.
“Obviously, the people that did it before were the ones who planted the seed and people have continued to keep going with it,” he said. “We just couldn’t see this thing die. It’s been going on for so many years in the community, and it just broke our hearts to think we’d have to tell the kids no, so we decided to say yes and we stepped up.”
Seeing the kids off to Disneyland on Dreamlift Day in December made it all worth it, said Patten.
“That was really life changing, to see them get on the plane and see them come back and to actually see the look on their faces as they forgot about all of their ailments for one day,” he said. “The kids are the real champions of the whole thing. We don’t know if they’re all going to be with us a year later, but at least we’ve made one day special in their lives. That’s why we do this.”
The Sunshine Foundation follows the kids throughout their lives and sees the impact going on a Dreamlift trip or having a dream fulfilled has on them, said Sandra Middleton, Sunshine Foundation chapter president for the Okanagan.
“Learning to dream or being able to fulfil your dreams for children with such severe mental and physical disabilities is everything,” she said. “Teaching them to be happier and teaching them that anything is possible is really important.”
For more information or to donate, go online to sunshine.ca.