Morning Star sports editor Kevin Mitchell spends some time helping out behind the counter at Wendy’s Wednesday during the 17th annual Dreamlift Day charity event.

Morning Star sports editor Kevin Mitchell spends some time helping out behind the counter at Wendy’s Wednesday during the 17th annual Dreamlift Day charity event.

Wendy’s Dreamlift Day raises $109,382 in Okanagan

It was as if Tinkerbell showered the Okanagan with pixie dust and created magic for some special kids.

The 17th annual Wendy’s Dreamlift Day raised a record $109,382 Wednesday. Proceeds will send 80 children with severe physical disabilities and life-threatening illnesses to Disneyland for a day.

“It surprised me a bit but I’m delighted,” said Akbal Mund, with Inland Restaurants, which owns the nine participating Wendy’s in the Thompson-Okanagan.

“It really speaks to the community support.”

This year surpasses the $99,742 raised in 2010, and brings the 17-year cumulative total to $995,080. That’s a direct result of the long lines of people inside the restaurants and in the drive-thrus.

“It’s a good cause. It’s good to get the kids away,” said Faye Viergutz, as she waited with husband Merv to get into the Vernon Wendy’s.

For Mund, all of the hard work that goes into Dreamlift Day is worth it when he sees the smiling faces of children who spent a day at the Magic Kingdom.

“We’re sending local kids who probably haven’t had a lot of independence in their lives,” he said.

The enthusiasm of residents was overwhelming for Lt. Robert Peterson, with the Orange County Sheriffs Department, who visited Vernon.

“It’s inspiring. The generosity of the community is breathtaking,” he said.

Peterson, like many of his colleagues in the department, has volunteered as a chaperone during the trips to Disneyland.

“On that end you get to see lives changed and the impact, but it’s on this end (in Vernon) that you see the people who make it possible,” he said.

Behind the scenes, local dignitaries and celebrities helped pour drinks, clear tables, cook burgers and direct traffic.

“It’s tough,” said Steve Weinstein, Vernon Vipers defenceman, as he made sure there were enough fries to meet demand.

“It took me a few tries to figure it out.”

But other participants are veterans at Dreamlift Day and they assumed duties like professionals.

“I know what I’m doing,” said Betty Selin, Sun FM morning co-host, as she navigated the beverage dispenser.

Also kept busy were Wendy’s staff, management and owners who donated their wages for the day to the cause.

Restaurants were packed throughout Vernon, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Kelowna, West Kelowna and Penticton.

“Everywhere I went was a zoo,” said Steve Tuck, with the Sunshine Foundation of Canada, which organizes the Disneyland adventures.

“This speaks to the commitment of the community.”

The next Dreamlift flight to Disneyland is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 8.