All HEAT athletics teams from UBC Okanagan took part in Wendy’s Restaurants annual “Dreamlift Day”. This event is put on by the Sunshine Foundation in an effort to make dreams come true for children between the ages of three and 18 who are challenged by severe physical disability or life-threatening illnesses. Local celebrities volunteered their time for the event, which was held at all nine Wendy’s locations in the Okanagan. HEAT student athletes volunteered their time and efforts at the Kelowna, Rutland and West Kelowna locations.
“As part of our community outreach program, we have again committed to participating in Wendy’s Dreamlift Day,” adds director of athletics and recreation Rob Johnson. “This is a very good cause and our hope for this year was that we could supply about 12 student athletes and/or coaches and/or administrators per store over the course of the day.” The student athletes at UBC Okanagan more than answered the bell as not only Rob himself took on a shift at a local Wendy’s but so did 50 student athletes.
“I think it’s definitely a great opportunity to get involved and to give back to the community," commented men’s basketball player Dan Benson. He was in uniform at the Kelowna location and giving out mints to customers who were waiting in a line that stretched through the restaurant and out the door to the parking lot.
“They’re back there helping with the cooking, helping with cleaning up the tables, interacting with the people waiting in line, etc.” said Mandy Trenholm, Assistant Coach of the Women’s Basketball team, who had already been waiting in line for 15 minutes - approximately ¼ of her total anticipated wait time. All of the players involved were enthusiastic about being there and there were smiles all around as they exercised their team skills and bonding in a different environment than the one they are used to on the hardwood.
“We came right after work and said [to ourselves] ‘It doesn’t matter how long [the line is]’,” said Todd, who was, along with his wife Gaye, amongst the many people waiting in line to be served. “It’s a party atmosphere, so it really doesn’t matter how long.”
An annual event (this was the 17th year), all proceeds from the day’s sales in the dining room and drive thru, as well as wages of the staff, managers and owner, are earmarked for the next B.C. Interior “Dreamlift to Disneyland,” when the children in question are flown to California for an action-packed and fun-filled day at Disneyland. Last year the nine Okanagan locations raised a little over $99,000.
A special guest appearance by none other than Wendy herself contributed to the number of local celebrity personnel at the event. “It’s for the kids,” she said with passion. She spent most of her time near the door, greeting customers who were just entering and offering balloons to the children who came in. She admitted that the most fun part of being there to help with the event was “the kids’ smiles on their faces when handing them a balloon.”
The Sunshine Foundation, with Wendy’s Restaurants, hoped to break the $100,000 mark this year and make even more children smile. They did just that; the nine locations raised an amazing $109,382.45, bringing the cumulative 17 year total to $995,080.64.