September 28, 2020

BY KEILA MACPHERSON

As a child, you probably wished for something … anything. It might have been a puppy, or that remote control car or to meet your favourite hockey player.
For kids with terminal illnesses these dreams can come true with help from organizations such as the Children’s Make a Wish Foundation or Sunshine Foundation of Canada, but the funding needs to come from somewhere.
That’s where Conestoga’s second semester pre-service firefighter students come in.
Each of the three semesters, the program holds a fundraising event to raise money for the Sunshine Foundation so they can fill an airplane that will take sick or disabled kids to Disney World.
Colleen Holmes partnered with the foundation and started the Danny Plane in memory of her son, Daniel.
“In the Danny Plane 80 kids with health conditions will be flown down to Disney for a day, as well as (fulfill) the terminal wishes of 10 kids and their families to go wherever they want to go,” said Holmes, a fitness technologist at Conestoga College.
“During the time my son was sick we had the opportunity to go on a wish, put on by the Sunshine Foundation, so that my son could see ‘Poch-na-hontas,’ and ‘Cindawella.’”
Daniel died when he was only four years old from a rare illness called neuroblastoma.
According to kidshealth.org, neuroblastoma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in children and infants, caused by an excessive growth of nerve cells, usually around the adrenal glands.
Holmes said it will cost about $258,000 for the flight to Disney.
According to Victoria Osmond, a second-semester pre-service firefighter student, at least 75 per cent of their profit from fundraising events goes toward the Danny Plane.
“We have a banquet at the end of our program, and that’s a very minimal cost, so we use the money that we raise toward that and everything over and above goes to the Sunshine Foundation,” Osmond said.
She also said their program will be holding a boot drive at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market at the end of November and another one on Dec. 8 in the Sunrise Centre on Ottawa Street and Fischer-Hallman Road.
“We’re planning to make it a big deal. We want to give Colleen and the Sunshine Foundation a beautiful, huge cheque when we graduate at the end of May,” said Osmond.