British Airways is once again helping Dreamflight play Fairy Godmother, making wishes come true for many children living in the UK with complex illnesses. A group of more than 190 children with complex disabilities and illnesses will be flying to Orlando for the trip of a lifetime.
What is Dreamflight?
Dreamflight is a UK-based charity organisation that was co-founded by previous British Airways employees Patrick Pearce and Derek Pereira in 1986. Since 1987, the charity has taken children on a well-deserved trip to Walt Disney Orlando for 10 days in total, without their parents, in a ‘private hired aircraft’ courtesy of British Airways. The flights, which take place every October, give a total of 192 children the unforgettable experience of being able to have fun, become independent, and temporarily forget about any stresses that are unavoidably linked to their diagnoses. The children are accompanied and supported by a huge number of volunteers, including doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists who have volunteered their time to help this amazing cause. British Airways cabin crew also join the trip as chaperones, taking part in the joyous event.
A huge impact on the community
Since its launch in 1986, Dreamflight and its trips have supported a total of 6200 children. Many of the children have shared their own testimonies about Dreamflight, explaining just how much going on these trips means to them. Ellie, a child whose life has been affected by Cerebral Palsy was able to go on one of these magical trips back in 2019. Though stating that she was apprehensive to leave her family and dog behind, she emphasised that she had an incredible time. Her mother stressed that the trip gave Ellie the opportunity to be truly herself.
“I knew she would have an amazing time – a trip of a lifetime with a group of her peers where she could totally be herself and not feel like she was too slow or have to put on a brave face when tiredness set in.”
Dreamflight proudly boasts its continued support of its ‘Very Important Children’ (VICs), supporting them long after their trips – and a number of Dreamflight alums have gone on to win Paralympic medals in recent years.
British Airways Dreamflight: The 2022 Edition
This year’s Dreamflight is the first since 2019, and it remains to be seen what the trip will look like in a post-pandemic world. With costs for each child reaching around £450 per day (that’s per child) for ten days, it’s not a cheap undertaking. Hundreds of volunteers partake in fundraising exercises all year long to raise money for Dreamflight – in the past, marathons have been run and mountains have been climbed. British Airways crew members are among the fundraisers, and have abseiled, swam, hiked, trekked and more in the name of Dreamflight, to make this yearly pilgrimage a true dream (flight) come true.
This year’s trip festivities begin today, but the flight to Orlando will depart London on Sunday, 16th October. The flight can be tracked online using the flight number BA1DF.
Have you been a Dreamflight VIC or volunteer? Share your memories with us in the comments!
Article written by Chantelle Cassell and Sammie White