He’s been an Orange County, Cal. sheriff for more than 20 years, but Lt. Bob Peterson is also pretty handy with a spatula.
Or making fries. Or getting beverages. Or working the drive-thru window.
Whatever is needed at the 17th annual Wendy’s Dreamlift Day today, Peterson is ready.
“I have done all of that, and I look forward to doing it again and meeting all the people of Vernon,” said Peterson, who arrived in town Sunday night, fresh from the 80-degree Fahrenheit Southern California sun into the -1 degree Celsius North Okanagan snow.
Peterson is one of a handful of Orange County sheriffs who have made the trip north to volunteer their services at Wendy’s Dreamlift Day throughout participating Wendy’s Restaurants in the Okanagan.
“We’re trying to raise money and donations for kids aged three to 18 that have severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses,” said Peterson, a native of Missiouri who has spent his entire 24-year law enforcement career in Orange County.
The money raised at Dreamlift Day helps sends 60-to-80 kids from the Southern Interior to Disneyland for a day. Last year’s event raised more than $99,000.
“Our goal is to raise more than $100,000,” said Peterson, who did some skiing and dropped the puck in a ceremonial face-off at Tuesday night’s Vernon Vipers-Salmon Arm SilverBacks B.C. Hockey League game at the Wesbild Centre.
“Ninety-three per cent of the money raised goes back to the kids so we can bring them down to Disneyland and put a little light in their day.”
This is Peterson’s first time helping out with the fundraising end of Dreamlift Day. He’s been involved before as a chaperone at Disneyland.
“It’s never a problem to get volunteers for this event,” he smiled. “As soon as the list comes out, it’s filled the same day.”
During Wendy’s Dreamlift Day, all the proceeds from the day’s sales, as well as restaurant staff, management and owner’s wages, will go to Dreamlift flights.
Besides Wendy’s staff, local celebrities and dignitaries will be working behind the scenes. In Vernon, they will include city politicians, the RCMP, the Vernon Vipers, paramedics and staff from The Morning Star.
The next Dreamlift flight is scheduled for later this year, and the experience is overwhelming for children who face some serious health issues.