Like many 10-year-old boys, Lucas Harrison plays videogames and basketball and will tell you his favourite subject in school is gym. Born with mild cerebral palsy, Lucas must use a wheelchair or canes to get around, but with a little help, he doesn’t let it get in his way.Having just returned from a one-day trip to Disney World in Orlando Apr. 12 courtesy of the Sunshine Foundation, Lucas can’t stop talking about his favourite ride.
“The Pirates of the Caribbean, because it looks so real,” he said. “It was fun.”
The Sunshine Foundation is a Canadian organization established to help children living with disabilities achieve their dreams. A not-for-profit without government funding, the 22-year-old foundation must rely entirely on donations and sponsors. Twice a year the group runs what it calls a dream-lift, chartering a plane for up to 80 disabled children with 100 volunteers and caregivers, and flies them to Disney World for a one-day whirlwind tour of the amusement park’s Magic Kingdom. Lucas’ trip was Sunshine’s 48th dream lift. Each trip costs about $150,000 to fund and takes extensive coordination from volunteers.
Lucas’ mom, Angela Harrison, was excited at the chance to send Lucas with the group. Parents don’t accompany the kids on the trips, but get put up in a hotel near the depture airport, in this case Hamilton, and get to see their children off at the gate.
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“It was incredible to go into that room and see 80 disabled children all in wheelchairs and stuff.
I had just never been part of something like that before,” she said.
“This is an opportunity for children with disabilities to just be a kid for a day.”
As part of the trip kids were given backpacks containing snacks and $60 USD in spending money. Lucas used his money to bring back Disney’s trademark ears, one pair for each member of his family. Upon returning he made his dad, Rob, wear the ears for a whole day.
“He made Rob wear them while playing basketball, it was so cute,” said Angela.
Inspired by Sunshine’s generosity, Rob will be hosting a fundraiser of his own for the group. An employee of Byma’s Tire and Auto in Kitchener, Rob, with the support of his company and the sponsorship of various other auto shops in the area will be holding a charity motorcycle cruise night June 25.
“We saw what they did for Lucas and just felt it was time to give back,” he said.
The event will take place in the Max Becker Plaza in Kitchener and will feature a raffle, door prizes and a 50/50 draw with all the proceeds going to the Sunshine Foundation. Rob hopes there will be upwards of 200 motorcycles at the event.