After losing his teenage son to muscular dystrophy, a grieving father resolved to honour his boy’s memory. He hoped to brighten the lives of other children and families by fulfilling their most cherished dreams. He gathered friends from his hometown of London, Ont. to help him, and the Sunshine Foundation of Canada was born.
Fast forward 25 years, and Sunshine is still providing dreams to kids across Canada living with severe physical disabilities and life-threatening illnesses, including children from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
They deserve the chance to live their dreams – dreams that can bring them hope, strength, and inspiration to face the lifetime of challenges and medical concerns that may lay ahead of them, said Maple Ridge’s Daryl Stone, a retired RCMP staff sargeant who remembers signing on with the Sunshine Foundation 22 years ago.
Since that fated day in 1991, when two women walked into the Maple Ridge police office asking for Mounties to help, Stone’s been hooked.
He started out by assisting at the annual Christmas party in Vancouver where Sunshine dream recipients are partnered with police officers for food and fun.
“When you see [the children’s] eyes when that dream comes true, there’s nothing more satisfying, more rewarding… These kids don’t spend much time in their life smiling, and then you see their eyes light up and they light up the entire room with their smile, that really warms the cockles of your heart,” Stone said.
Instantly committed to the cause, it didn’t take long for Stone to become embroiled, for instance helping fellow Mountie Marc Alexander with the annual golf tournament held every September at Meadow Gardens Golf Course, getting involved with a bi-annual garden tour, assisting with numerous dreamlifts where large groups of kids are jetted to Disneyland for a day, and hosting a celebrity ball game every spring. In fact, he was so devoted, that a dozen years ago he took over as president of Sunshine’s Lower Mainland chapter and never left the post.
“It’s not a hard sell… We’re about helping sick kids… how can you turn a blind eye to that.”
The local chapter – one of 11 across the country – is holding a special 25th anniversary celebration this month to raise money and awareness for this cause so dear to Stone’s heart.
It’s the Bright Night, Big Dreams dessert gala being held at Meadow Gardens on Thursday, Oct. 25, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person from Daryl Stone at 604-467-4408.
The evening will include a spread of sweet treats, wine tasting, and entertainment from the 16-member Golden Ears Jazz Band and Rick Valiant performing a Frank Sinatra tribute. There will also a speech from Sunshine alumni Marco Pasqua, a Surrey man born with cerebral palsy, who will talk about the importance Sunshine played in his life and the life of other kids.
As part of the Sunshine Foundation’s anniversary celebrations, they also committed to fulfilling one dream a day in 2012. Maple Ridge’s Ryan Jephson was one of the most recent recipients.
OUR MISSION: The Sunshine Foundation of Canada makes dreams come true for children living in
Canada, who are challenged by severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses.
OUR VISION: Every Sunshine child shall live their dream.
• Who we are and what we do
The Sunshine Foundation of Canada is a national charitable organization that makes dreams come true for children
living with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses. Since 1987, we have fulfilled more than 6,700
dreams for children across Canada.
• Homegrown and heartfelt
Sunshine Foundation was established in 1987 by a Canadian police officer who lost his teenaged son to muscular
dystrophy. As a lasting legacy to his son, he sought to brighten the lives of other children with special challenges by
fulfilling their most cherished dreams.
• How Sunshine is different
Sunshine Foundation holds a unique niche among Canadian children’s charities in that we fulfill dreams for
children with severe physical disabilities as well as those with life-threatening illnesses. In fact, more than
80% of Sunshine’s Dream requests currently come from children with severe physical disabilities. Our Sunshine
alumni tell us that their Dream experience had a long-lasting impact on their lives. Without Sunshine, many of
these children would not have the opportunity for their ‘dream come true’.
• Letting the child lead
For a child whose life often feels out of their own control, the chance to be ‘in the driver’s seat’ for their Sunshine
Dream can be tremendously motivating and exciting. In Sunshine’s Individual Dream program, we invite each child
to look within themselves for their most cherished dream and then to express that dream to us in the best way that
they can. Upon approval, Sunshine’s DreamTeam gets to work, sometimes ‘moving mountains’ to make that
child’s dream come true. An elephant in your backyard? No problem! A meeting with your favourite hockey hero?
Consider it done!
• Sunshine was the first to bring DreamLifts to Canadian children
Sunshine’s one-day, whirlwind DreamLifts adventures transport approximately 80 children by plane to an exciting
destination like a Disney theme park. With initial inspiration from an American-based model, Sunshine has hosted
47 successful DreamLifts for more than 3,700 children since 1987. Sunshine is an acknowledged national leader,
trusted by healthcare professionals and families for the safety, professionalism and exceptional service of our
• Caring for kids means caring for families
Sunshine’s goal is not to be the largest, but to be the best for the families who entrust us with their
children’s dreams. We keep application processes simple for families under stress. We respect diverse cultures
and traditions, and we respond to each individual need with care.
• Grassroots-driven, then and now
While the types of Individual Dream requests Sunshine receives today may differ from those of Sunshine children
22 years ago, Sunshine’s core values remain remarkably unchanged. We continue to be proudly grassroots-driven,
even in our national efforts. Sunshine is volunteer-powered, with Chapter communities Canada-wide, supported by
one small national home office. Sunshine thrives on the spirit of teamwork - we are experts in collaboration.
Doing a lot with minimal resources
As a charitable organization, Sunshine is governed by a national volunteer board of directors that ensures every
dollar of the approximately $2 million we raise annually is well spent. More than 80% of Sunshine’s receiptable
revenue is directed to Dream Fulfillment – an admirable ratio that is well within industry standards.