Ten-year-old Langley City boy, Thaddeus Flannigan, was partnered with Orange County Sheriff Todd Russ during his one-day trip to Disneyland with the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Ten-year-old Langley City boy, Thaddeus Flannigan, was partnered with Orange County Sheriff Todd Russ during his one-day trip to Disneyland with the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Life-changing adventure to Disneyland comes as early gift

Two Langley kids were invited to be part of Sunshine Foundation’s most recent DreamLift

It’s a present that neither Mom nor Santa could have possibly squeezed under the tree for Thaddeus this Christmas.

But the Sunshine Foundation of Canada managed to make one 10-year-old Langley City boy’s dreams come true just ahead of the holidays.

Thaddeus Flannigan is a Grade 5 Uplands Elementary student, and he hasn’t stopped talking about an excursion he and 72 other kids made to Disneyland earlier this month.

Sunshine changes the lives of children living with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses by making their dreams come true.

In this case, Thaddeus got to be part of the 64th Sunshine DreamLift out of Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 11. Destination: The happiest place on earth.

Within a 20-hour window, the DreamLift gives kids a true taste of independence. It takes them on a child-led adventure – away from their parents and medical appointments – and transports them to a magical setting far from home.

For Thaddeus it was his first time travelling without his family, and his first time to Disneyland.

“This was definitely a once in a lifetime experience for him,” said Thaddeus’ mother, Candice Welch.

“He’s just now starting to calm down about it,” she said, noting it took a few days to just rest up and recover from the whirlwind trip.

The adventure started with the family staying in a hotel in Richmond ahead of the trip. There wasn’t much sleep the night before, Mom acknowledged – blaming a high level of excitement and the need for participants to be at the airport for a 4 a.m. start.

When the kids arrived in California, each child was matched up with at least one emergency responder buddy. For Thaddeus, he was partnered with Orange County Sheriff Todd Russ for the day, and according to Mom, the pair had a non-stop blast.

The Pirates of the Carribean ride was – without question – the highlight of the trip for Thaddeus. But the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ride was a close second, Thaddeus returning home with a fluffy porg companion.

Admittedly, the scarier rides – like Space Mountain – proved a little too much for this youngster.

“He freaked out and said ‘okay, we’re not doing that again’,” Mom recounted, noting much of Thaddeus’ time in Disneyland was consumed by rides.

The young boy was born premature at 31 weeks and weighed only four pounds. Joint contractures at birth prevented him from straightening his arms and legs.

Thaddeus has what his mother describes as central core myopathy – a disease weakening his muscles.

RELATED: Variety gives young Langley City boy strength, increased mobility

So Thaddeus uses a wheelchair, but it wasn’t a hindrance for the young basketball player. In fact, it probably worked to his advantage getting the young athlete around the park with greater speed.

Having had what he describes as a “great” time, Thaddeus hopes to one day return to Disneyland – this time with his four younger siblings. And, he’s told Mom, he hopes to lure his younger brothers into trying some of those scarier rides – he’ll watch from the sidelines.

As as single mother, Welch isn’t too sure she’ll be able to take all the kids to Disneyland any time soon, but Thaddeus has it all planned out what rides they should take in and what features they should visit – if a return is ever possible.

Thaddeus was nominated for the DreamLift by the neuro-muscular clinic at BC Children’s Hospital, and learned in September that he might be going.

Having never been to Disneyland before, the outing didn’t seem real to Thaddeus until the weekend before – in part, because he didn’t know what to expect.

Now, Mom jokes, all he can talk about is Disneyland, Pirates of the Carribean, and Star Wars.

“I think he took advantage of the fact that it was all about him… going without all of us. It is really kind of nice for the kids. It’s all about them… There’s not a lot of times where he gets a lot of one-on-one time, you know?”

Thaddeus wasn’t the only Langley child to participate. He was joined on the trip by Langley’s Aliska Khaskan, as well as other kids and youth from Metro Vancouver, Victoria, and surrounding areas.

Since its inception in 1987, Sunshine has fulfilled more than 8,500 dreams for children and youth across Canada and coordinated 64 Sunshine DreamLifts.

READ MORE: How Variety helps two Langley City kids with their disabilities

.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

roxanne.hooper@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Aliska Khaskan of Langley was among 73 kids who participated in a recent Sunshine DreamLift to Disneyland. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Aliska Khaskan of Langley was among 73 kids who participated in a recent Sunshine DreamLift to Disneyland. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Ten-year-old Langley City boy, Thaddeus Flannigan, was partnered with Orange County Sheriff Todd Russ during his one-day trip to Disneyland with the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Ten-year-old Langley City boy, Thaddeus Flannigan, was partnered with Orange County Sheriff Todd Russ during his one-day trip to Disneyland with the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Ten-year-old Langley City boy, Thaddeus Flannigan, was partnered with Orange County Sheriff Todd Russ during his one-day trip to Disneyland with the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Ten-year-old Langley City boy, Thaddeus Flannigan, was partnered with Orange County Sheriff Todd Russ during his one-day trip to Disneyland with the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Ten-year-old Langley City boy, Thaddeus Flannigan, was partnered with Orange County Sheriff Todd Russ during his one-day trip to Disneyland with the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Ten-year-old Langley City boy, Thaddeus Flannigan, was partnered with Orange County Sheriff Todd Russ during his one-day trip to Disneyland with the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Aliska Khaskan of Langley was among 73 kids who participated in a recent Sunshine DreamLift to Disneyland. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Aliska Khaskan of Langley was among 73 kids who participated in a recent Sunshine DreamLift to Disneyland. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Just Posted

Township of Langley crews were called to a structure fire in the 7200blk 208th St in Willoughby on Friday, Jan. 22, 2020 (Curtis Kreklau/South Fraser News Services)
VIDEO: Two-alarm blaze in Langley’s Willoughby neighbourhood

Crews respond to multiple reports of a structure fire in the 7200 block of 208th Street on Friday

Black Press Media Files
BC Teacher’s Federation asks for vaccine prioritization

‘Hopefully more vaccines are approved and the immunization strategy will be adjusted and accelerated’

Sources White Rock/South Surrey Food Bank is located at 2356 156 St. (File photo)
Door-to-door canvassers not working on behalf of Sources Food Bank, says manager

Accredited White Rock, South Surrey, Langley food bank does not canvas for donations

Theatre in the Country presents Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde. (TIC/Special to the Aldergrove Star)
Oscar Wilde, Kauffman and Hart, and adult acting classes all happening at Langley theatre

Theatre in the Country continues to showcase Zoom performances while now offering scene studies

Curator Kobi Christian with an exhibit on historic clothing that was on display at the Langley Centennial Museum last February. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley museum gets $75,000 grant

The funding is to go towards improving facilities

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Most Read