Dreamflight http://www.dreamflight.org is a registered charity whose purpose is to take seriously ill children on the "Holiday of a Lifetime" to Disney World in Florida. While many charities devote their energies to funding long term research projects or the purchase of expensive medical equipment, Dreamflight's organizers think it just as important to bring some fun and joy into the lives of children who perhaps can't wait long enough for the medical breakthrough they need or whose illness and treatments have brought pain, distress and disruption to their lives.
Dreamflight was devised in 1986 by Derek Pereira and Patricia Pearce, together with a small group of British Airways staff. Their dedication culminated in November 1987 with a full Boeing 747, which had 288 sick children and their adult helpers aboard, flying off to Disney World for five magical days. Dreamflight was only intended to be a "one off" trip but the '87 flight was such a success that it has now become an annual event.
While Dreamflight continues to receive considerable support from British Airways staff, the charity is financially independent from the airline.
The Holiday: the atmosphere as the children gather at Heathrow on the afternoon before the trip is electric. Many of them will not have experienced a proper holiday before; few of them will have been able to travel abroad, away from their doctors and families, and none of them has any idea of the excitement, fun and thrills they will have in the eight days to come. As the parents leave their children in the care of Dreamflight, it's time to make new friends at the pre-departure party. Even the "quiet, shy" children we've been told about become mysteriously noisy and extrovert! The long flight is an opportunity for the escorts to get to know the children in their care and the party atmospere on board sets the scene for the week to come. The drive from the airport to the hotel is straight out of the movies. With our friends from the Orange County police blocking all the roads and giving our convoy of twelve coaches a high-speed escort right to our hotel! The days that follow are sheer magic; there's something for everyone. Walt Disney Magic Kingdom is just that - magical! - and the wealth of fantasy on show has every child wide-eyed and delighted tto be able to see their favorite cartoon characters in real life. The two days spent at Universal and MGM Studios give the children a chance to immerse themselves right into their favourite films; and a great day is spent at Blizzard Beach water park. It can be difficult for an outsider to believe that many of the happy and energetic children they see dashing round the attractions could have any problems in life. But find time to talk to them about their life experiences and you can't help but be impressed - and humbled - by their courage. Those who do get the chance to meet these children understand exactly how important a holiday like Dreamflight is to the children.
Fund raising - the lifeblood of Dreamflight is an army of volunteer fundraisers, for without these people the trips would just not be possible. Whilst the largest proportion of Dreamflight's funds is raised by a huge number of individuals, they have been fortunate to attract corporate sponsorships which has enabled the charity to be placed on a more stable financial footing. All fundraisers can be assured that the results of their efforts will be spent directly on the holiday, not on supporting other schemes, or indeed on an expensive organization.
If you would like further information about Dreamflight, or details of how you may contribute to their fundraising, please contact:
3 Saxeway, Chartridge, Bucks HP5 2SH, England
Telephone 01494 792991