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Record total making dreams come true

Servers help the lineup of customers Wednesday during the annual Dreamlift Day fundraiser at the Penticton restaurant. The record proceeds donated this week will go to help pay for a trip to Disneyland for special children in the Thompson Okanagan. - Mark Brett/Western News
Servers help the lineup of customers Wednesday during the annual Dreamlift Day fundraiser at the Penticton restaurant. The record proceeds donated this week will go to help pay for a trip to Disneyland for special children in the Thompson Okanagan.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Dollars and smiles were the order of Wendy’s record-breaking Dreamlift Day Wednesday.

Morning, afternoon and night a steady stream of people passed through the doors into the colourful, balloon-filled dining room at the Main Street location to contribute to the annual fundraiser.

The final tally for the nine participating restaurants was just under $110,000 and brings the total over the last 17 years to $995,080.

“We’re riding the wave of excitement after yesterday,” said area partner Todd Lewis of franchise owners Inland Restaurants, Thursday. “In Penticton the response was fabulous, I don’t think that we could have asked for anything more and I can’t believe the patience of customers standing in line. This is the one day of the year where nothing else seems to matter.”

The money raised included all the proceeds from the sales, as well as restaurant staff, management and owner’s wages.

It will be used to send about 80 children to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. which is organized by the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. The next scheduled trip is Dec. 8.

Steve Tuck, past-president of the foundation’s Interior chapter, had his own theory about why customers were so willing to wait.

“I think it is just simply that people have embraced this cause so much,” he said. “I’ve never seen people out in numbers like they were yesterday, and let’s face it, if most people came to a fast food restaurant and saw those kinds of lineups on a normal day, they would either say let’s go somewhere else or forget it.

“What a great success and I think it defeated all odds — I mean there’s all kinds of reasons why we might not have done better than last year but we did.”

Both men heard repeatedly how impressed the Orange County (California) Sheriff’s representatives who came to the Thompson Okanagan for Dreamlift Day were.

“She (Capt. Linda Solorza) was absolutely amazed by the day — it was her first one and she had a special needs uncle who recently passed away so it was really close to her heart,” said Lewis. “She could not get over the warmth of the people of Penticton and she kept talking about how everywhere she went people knew who she was and what she was here for.”

While at Disneyland the sheriffs act as guides and hosts for the children from arrival to departure.

“I mean those guys open doors in Disneyland to get kids to the front of the lines and they make them feel like VIPs for the day, which they are,” said Lewis.

He added the real winners in all this are the children who will now benefit from the generosity of so many people.

“I mean to give the kids an opportunity to spend the day at Disneyland — I mean Disneyland is magical right? It really is and to take the kids for a whirlwind day in there and get them back to tuck into bed that night is fantastic.

“This is a cause that’s unlike any other.”

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