November 28, 2014 - 4:42 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - It may be the end of an era for Wendy’s Dreamlift Day, a unique and popular Thompson-Okanagan fundraising event.
For more than 20 years, Wendy’s restaurants in the area donated all funds raised from one day of sales — totalling more than $1 million in that time — and gave children with special needs a “dream" trip to Disneyland.
But according to sources, 2014 may be the last year for the event, which was unique to the B.C. Interior, or it may be changed somehow for 2015.
If it were to proceed as usual, it would involve dedicated California police officers who usually accompany B.C. children on their trip. But Marilyn MacDougall of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department says they’ve been told it won’t happen in January 2015.
“We won’t be coming up this year,” she says. “They are not planning on doing a Dreamlift per se. They will be doing something but probably for another charity. We are disappointed because we felt it was a really good partnership but we understand.”
Wendy’s Dreamlift Day was created and fostered by Inland Restaurants' majority owner John Tietzen who, until 2012, owned several Wendy’s franchises in the Penticton, Vernon, Kelowna, West Kelowna and Kamloops.
The fundraiser continued for two years under new owner Ken Park, who was unavailable Friday to confirm what’s happening with the event. Tristan Joseph, spokesperson for the Sunshine Foundation, wouldn’t confirm if the fundraiser is going ahead this year or if it has been cancelled.
“We are going to release a statement about that next week,” she said. “We will outline everything in the statement next week. That is all I can give you at this point. We always work with Wendy’s before we release anything.”
MacDougall and the Sheriff's Department are still involved with the Sunshine Foundation welcoming kids from Western Canada, including a plane from Vancouver two weeks from now. She says while she is sad to see it end, she hopes the foundation and the interior B.C. restaurants can get back together.
“Ken Parks was a great partner with us,” MacDougall says. “We understand it’s his business and he needs to run it as he sees fit. We thoroughly enjoyed it and I will miss being up there for sure. We are just grateful for the amount of time we had. Twenty-one years is a long time."
To contact the reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones at email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014