Dreams Take Flight stretches children’s minds. As poet Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, “One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
In 1989, several Air Canada employees in Toronto planned a trip-of-a-lifetime. They held bake sales to raise the thousands needed. Many cupcakes, cookies and healthy ingredients later, they flew 70 special needs children on a DC-9 aircraft to Walt Disney World in Florida.
The trip changed the children’s lives. For the first time, they understood that possibilities exist. Possibility without limitation.
By 1997, the Dreams Take Flight charity had expanded across Canada to eight cities: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. The trajectory continues. Once a year, each chapter replicates the inaugural 1989 flight.
For a very long and exciting day, deserving children have an adventure in a world-renowned theme park in California or Florida. All expenses paid—thanks to sponsors and volunteers. These children aren’t accustomed to mind-stretching ideas. They have challenges that might be medical, mental, physical, social or emotional. They understand the word, “no.”
Air Canada donates planes. Volunteers raise money throughout the year. Donors give to cover all the expenses—aircraft fuel, park admission, spending money, plus cash for souvenirs and gifts. Each child and their escort are clad in signature clothing to set them apart in the park.
By the end of 2018, more than 35,000 children had known a trip-of-a-lifetime.
Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, this year, many more will say, “That day was amazing. Now I know I too can feel amazing.”