By: Andrea Byers, Specialist,Orientation and Mobility / Independent Living Skills, CNIB St. Catharines.
My alarm buzzed way too early in the morning; it was 3 a.m. My desire to return to bed was surpassed by my excitement for what was to come; I was heading to the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport to meet up with my 7-year-old buddy who was matched with me by the Sunshine Foundation. My buddy and I, along with over 80 other children with physical disabilities (including 8 CNIB staff and 12 clients) and their buddy volunteers, were about to board a “DreamLift” to go to The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The DreamLift left the airport at 6:30 in the morning with all the children and their buddies on board. The plane was noisy and full with excitement and anticipation of the magnificent day ahead of us.
Once we landed at the airport in Orlando, we loaded onto the busses and headed for Walt Disney World.
After a quick ferry ride we had arrived at The Magic Kingdom. My Buddy and I spent a jam-packed, fun-filled day exploring all that The Magic Kingdom had to offer. We rode Aladdin’s magic carpet, flew with Dumbo, met Princesses, ate cotton candy, went ‘under the sea’ with Ariel, and survived Splash Mountain. We would have loved to stay in the Magic Kingdom forever, but sadly all the enjoyment of the day had to come to an end and it was time to re-board the ferry and begin the return trip home.
It was a rewarding day and I was fortunate to be able to share these special moments with my buddy. Throughout the day I got to experience many firsts and create countless memories with my buddy. The return flight was very quiet as the children were all exhausted from a whirlwind day, and most had fallen asleep with similes on their faces. I’m sure they were dreaming of their adventures at The Magic Kingdom.
I will forever be grateful that I was able to be a part of the DreamLift, and will treasure the memories created, and the new friendships formed during this amazing adventure.