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Operation Dreamlift Sends Special Needs and Terminally Ill Children to Disney

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10 May 2013 No Comment

Nearly 100 special needs and chronically ill children were able to enjoy the magic of Walt Disney World for a day on May 7 thanks to Operation Dreamlift.

Justin Snodgrass, one of the 2013 Dreamlift participants, is carried aboard the chartered jet waiting to take off for Disney. Snodgrass is helped aboard by New Jersey State Troopers John Sandner (left) and Ken Barlow (right).
Photo by Michael Mancuso / The Times

A program run by the Sunshine Foundation, Operation Dreamlift has allowed over 5,000 children to visit special destinations in the Orlando area since the program began. Privately chartered planes carry the children to and from their one-day excursion. This was the foundation’s 24th trip to Disney, and the Foundation reportedly raised $300,000 in order to charter the flight for this year’s Operation Dreamlift.

This past Tuesday, as the plane was preparing to board at the Trenton-Mercer Airport, the children were given a send-off fit for princes and princesses: Mickey, Minnie, Pooh, and Tigger, along with other Disney character favorites (who were Notre Dame student volunteers, according to the Trentonian), posed for pictures with the children and waved as their plane took off. The Ewing High School band set the mood with their music, as well.

“These kids don’t get to have a childhood, and they get to have one for at least one day,” Sunshine Foundation director of development Pamela Vasserman said. To that, organizer Cathy DiCostanzo added, “Today’s the day they’re not worried about any of their aches and pains and the problems of everyday life – they’re just enjoying being in Disney World with the whole gang.”

Want to donate to the next Operation Dreamlift (in October)? Visit the Sunshine Foundation’s homepage to donate or to read about the other projects the Foundation has underway.

Photo by Michael Mancuso

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