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October 30, 2002

West Island kids to see Disney dream come true

From: Montreal West Island Chronicle, Canada
Oct. 30, 2002

The Chronicle
Twelve West Island children will be among a group of about 80 children who will be living a dream today.

The kids will visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., courtesy of Sunshine Dreams for Kids, a company that sends ailing or physically disabled children on dream trips all over North America.

Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School student Christopher Shirlow, 17, who is deaf and has physical deformities in his hands, feet and face, said he was extremely excited about going on the trip, set to depart Dorval airport early this morning and return tonight around midnight.

"It's a dream come true," Shirlow said. "I am very excited about the trip."

Shirlow's father, Warren, said it's been a difficult year for the youngster, who came to live with him after his estranged wife died in August.

"It's a big deal for him to get out of town for at least a day, especially to Florida," he said. "It's very kind and considerate of these people to send him to Florida. It's something I couldn't afford to do, sending him to Florida on the spur of the moment."

The trip, which is being bankrolled by Maple Lodge Farms, is expected to cost $90,000, and will see the children take off from Dorval this morning, land in Orlando around noon and spend seven hours taking in one of the world's favourite vacation destinations. Each child will receive $45 US for spending money, and the whole affair will wrap up when the plane touches back down around midnight, said Sunshine Dreamlift spokesman Maija Ambrogio.

"You must appreciate these children's lives are filled with appointments, doctors, procedures, medications, needles and people telling them to take better care of themselves. This is a day where they can just go, forget everything and enjoy being a kid at Walt Disney World."

This month marks Sunshine Dream for Kids' 15th anniversary of operation. The non-profit organization has organized 40 such trips for sick kids across Canada, but this is the first one leaving from Montreal.

Maple Lodge Farms CEO Tony Tavares said his company's involvement was exciting.

"We're thrilled to make these Sunshine Dreamlifts possible. We know in the past it was a very tough job for Sunshine Dreams for Kids to obtain funding for Dreamlifts from so many different sources. We're happier to make their lives easier, and more importantly, to give these children the chance of a lifetime and an opportunity they might not otherwise have," he stated.

© The Chronicle