Wednesday is DreamLift Day.
From 6 a.m. until closing the Penticton Wendy’s Restaurant is donating net sales along with staff, management and owners’ wages to make the Disneyland dream come true for some special kids.
No one knows better just how much that one day means to the children with severe disabilities and life threatening illnesses than Orange County, Calif., sheriff Mike Toledo.
For two decades he has volunteered his time to escort some of the young Canadians on their whirlwind day-tour of the park.
“It is an incredible experience just to watch them and see how much fun they have,” said Toledo, Tuesday following his arrival in Penticton.
“It’s almost indescribable, just watching those kids get off that plane, many of them need assistance you have to carry them if they’re wheelchair bound.”
He is joining local celebrities and dignitaries during the day to flip burgers, serve customers and whatever else is necessary to make the day a success.
The trips are organized through the Interior chapter of the Sunshine Foundation of Canada independent charity.
“I been coming up to the Okanagan Valley for four years but I’ve been on the Disneyland side of it for about 20 years,” said Toledo.
“I first got involved when I was a young deputy sheriff.
That was my first exposure to DreamLift and I just loved it so much I’ve been a part of it every since.
This is his second year in Penticton.
“I love it up here,” he said. “You Canadians are very laid back, it’s refreshing. I love the people, everyone is so generous and they’re alway smiling. When we come up here they always take very good care of us.”
While the one day in Disneyland goes by quickly Toledo noted there is a very strong bond between the sheriffs and their young friends in that short time.
“They’re exhausted at the end of the day but we have a very close relationship,” said Toledo. “It’s amazing to watch them go through it. They get to do more in that time than the average person would in a weekend.”
Penticton’s Al Sismey, regional co-ordinator for the South Okanagan Similkameen Crime Stoppers program who was with Toledo Tuesday had his first opportunity last month to make the trip to California to see what the work he does up here is all about.
“It really is hard to appreciate exactly what goes on until you’re there to witness it,” said Sismey. “It really does your heart good to see what you do makes people so happy.”
Meanwhile sheriff Toledo had a special invitation for Western News readers:
“Everybody come down to Wendy’s tomorrow, don’t go shopping, don’t cook and I hope to see as many people as we can.”