The Help Fill a Dream Foundation sent Langford resident Lochlyn McDonald

Gala event makes magic happen for local families

Foundation celebrates 30 years of fulfilling dreams

Dreams do come true.

But sometimes they need a little extra help to happen and that’s where the Victoria-based Help Fill a Dream Foundation comes in. The charitable organization aids Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands children under the age of 19 with life threatening conditions by making their dreams come true, improving their quality of life and assisting their families with care and financial support. Since 1986 they have fulfilled more than 2,200 dreams.

Celebrating their 30th anniversary, this grassroots initiative started by a Victoria transit driver is hosting an extra special event on Friday (Sept. 30), a fundraiser gala that aims to help more dreams come true in the coming years.

“It’ll be quite an elegant evening … Celebrating 30 years is quite a milestone for any organization,” said executive director Craig Smith. “We want to send a big thank you to the community at large, we couldn’t do what we do without them.”

Fulfilled dreams don’t just impact the family receiving them, he said. That sentiment was echoed by Langford resident Rob McDonald, whose nine-year-old daughter, Lochlyn, had a big dream fulfilled by the Foundation last year.

It all started when the family was searching for an iPad to help Lochlyn with her schooling. A friend suggested they contact Help Fill a Dream and the rest was magic, as they say.

In the process of filling out an application for the iPad, the foundation asked the family what Lochlyn’s dream vacation would be. In May 2015 the family of four was flown to Miami, where they took a 15-day Disney Caribbean cruise through the Panama Canal. “It was 15 days of paradise,” McDonald said. “It was an amazing time.”

Lochlyn has Costello syndrome, an extremely rare disorder that affects many parts of the body. “She spent the first 98 days of her life in the hospital,” her father said, adding there have been many more visits since then.

The happy, tiny little girl who weighs just 32 pounds is often mistaken for a toddler and is fed through a tube. But that doesn’t hold her back. “She’s extremely social … School is her favourite place to be,” McDonald said.

Tickets are still available for the gala, which gets underway Friday at 6 p.m. at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa. The enchanted event will feature live music and entertainment paired with a three-course dinner and fashion show, along with a few surprises, noted Smith.

Also included is the unveiling of a dream dress for 11-year-old Ella, who has Type 1 juvenile diabetes. The dress is custom-made and designed by Shades of White Bridal from donated wedding gowns. “Not only will the dream dress be revealed but she’ll be presented with a trip to Disneyland,” Smith said. Her family plans to take that trip in November and Ella will wear her new dress during a princess tea party.

As for McDonald, he couldn’t say enough good things about the foundation. “The organization has been amazing; they treat us like gold … The gifts they provide allow you to normalize your life a little and just spend time as a family.”

Sometimes that’s all a family really wants.

For details about the Foundation or to purchase tickets to the gala, go to helpfilladream.com.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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