Dreamlift appears to be grounded.
Park Inland Restaurants, which owns the local Wendy’s franchise, has decided not to host the annual Wendy’s Dreamlift Day in the future. Proceeds from the event helped the Sunshine Foundation send Interior children with life-threatening illnesses or disabilities to Disneyland for the day.
“We celebrated 20 years with Dreamlift with the support of our communities and now is the time to help out other organizations in our communities,” said Ken Park, Park Inland owner.
Wendy’s Dreamlift Day began when the Okanagan, Kamloops and Salmon Arm restaurants were owned by John Tietzen, Akbal Mund and other partners. They sold the franchise to Park in 2012.
Park Inland will back the Dave Thomas Foundation, which was started by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas and focuses on adoptions.
“The goal is to help children in foster care in our community find permanent homes. It will be a lift that lasts a lifetime,” said Park.
Since 1994, more than $1.4 million was raised during Wendy’s Dreamlift Day and seven trips to Disneyland occurred.
The funds raised included the gross profits and salaries from the staff, management and ownership of the nine Wendy’s restaurants in the region.
“Sunshine will continue to fulfill dreams for kids in the region and it wishes Park Inland Restaurants success as they provide support for other deserving charities,” said Tristan Joseph, Sunshine Foundation of Canada communications officer.
However, Sunshine Foundation has not indicated how it will continue to serve Interior youth or if Dreamlift flights from the region will continue.
“We certainly hope that there will be more Sunshine Dreamlifts serving kids in the Okanagan,” said Joseph.
“At this point, we don’t have definitive information on when that might be. Sunshine will continue to fulfill individual dreams for kids in the Okanagan.”
While Wendy’s will no longer host the major Dreamlift Day fundraiser, Park says his franchise will continue to support individual dreams through Sunshine Foundation.
As a former owner, Mund would not comment on the decision made by Park Inland Restaurants to not sponsor Dreamlift Day.
“Am I sad to see it go, of course. But I am happy that there were seven flights that left the Interior,” he said of the enjoyment the Disneyland trips brought to the children participating.
“I focus on the thousands of volunteers who helped out during the fundraiser. We served many kids and I am proud of that fact.”