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Wendy coming to Penticton for Dreamlift Day

Wendy Thomas is expected to be in the Okanagan for this year
Wendy Thomas is expected to be in the Okanagan for this year's Dreamlift Day on Jan. 25.
— image credit: Photo submitted

This year’s Dreamlift Day at Wendy’s Restaurants is going to be a little more special, as Wendy Thomas, the little red-headed girl the chain was named for, pays her first visit to the B.C. Interior.

“The plan is to get Wendy to every restaurant in the southern interior over a two-day period,” said John Tietzen, the Wendy’s franchise owner who, 18 years ago, started Dreamlift Day.

But Thomas, whose face graces the chain’s logo and signs, said she’s grown up just a bit since the 1960s, when Dave Thomas opened his first restaurant.

“That was me when I was eight years old, when my Dad took the picture. I am just a few years older, and a few more wrinkles, but yes, that’s me with pigtails. But I don’t have buckteeth anymore,” joked Thomas, who is expected to be at the Penticton location Wednesday morning, weather permitting.

Money collected through the fundraiser is used to take children from the area on a one-day Disneyland adventure. Over the years, they have collected almost $1 million from the event and Tietzen expects they will pass that mark on Jan. 25.

Thomas said she is looking forward to the event, adding that it’s like coming full circle; her dad was there at the beginning, helping kick off the event.

“Dad came in 1995 when John first started with his whole Dreamlift idea,” Thomas said. She had been talking with Tietzen about the possibility of a visit for a couple of years, and decided to come now to help mark a milestone for Dreamlift.

“I think my timing is great, because to raise a million dollars is pretty exciting,” said Thomas “Especially for all these children to have all their dreams come true.”

“In 1995, Dave Thomas did the first public service announcement for us and that kind of gave us a lift. If you remember, we only raised $10,000 the first year,” said Tietzen. “Her dad helped start this and now that we have achieved this large milestone, she is coming here to honour it.”

Thomas said she is eager to meet the Wendy’s management and staff who are giving up their daily wages to help out. Giving back to the community, she said, was a keystone of her father’s philosophy.

“It was a valuable lesson that my father taught me, for the Wendy’s family, is that we have to give back. It’s part of our responsibility,” said Thomas. “I just can’t wait to see how this all works. And to meet all these employees and the management team and all the volunteers that work for this.”

 

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