June 27, 2023 – TORONTO, ON – In celebration of Make-A-Wish® Canada’s 40th anniversary, 40 wish families from across Canada will have their wishes to Walt Disney World® Resort granted simultaneously in a special week-long group vacation experience from July 18-25. This is the first time in the organization’s history that 40 wishes have been granted at once. The week will be chock full of special touches including pre-flight, welcome and anniversary parties, and fun family activities.
Having a wish granted is not just a “nice to have” item. It is a life-changing experience for families facing critical illness as they begin to write a new story; one that is focused on positivity. On this historic trip, 40 families will have an opportunity to bond over their shared experience.
“A wish is essential for children facing critical illness to support their physical recovery while also strengthening their mental and emotional health”, said Meaghan Stovel McKnight, CEO, Make-A-Wish Canada. “For our wish families, this wish trip creates the opportunity to build positive families memories which help with the healing process that they all so vitally need. We are so grateful to all the donors who have made this possible and particularly WestJet, Blue Cross and Sofina Foods Inc. for their exceptional support of our wish kids and families.”
WestJet is generously donating a chartered 737 aircraft and providing crew to fly this VIP (Very Important Plane) from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Orlando, Florida. Blue Cross is not only providing comprehensive travel insurance so that each family can enjoy a worry-free vacation. but will be hosting a pre-flight lounge full of fun family activities, to give families a proper send-off in Toronto before their journey begins. Sofina Foods has proudly partnered with Make-A-Wish Canada over the past 10 years. Their impact has supported 45 wishes and over $650,000. Sofina Foods’ employees rallied together through their annual Dream Builders’ Campaign and donated an additional $150,000 to help make this trip possible.
“For the last 16 years, WestJetters have been helping to create a special and memorable travel experience for Wish Kids and their families through our WestJet Cares for Kids program,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Group Executive Vice-President and Chief People, Corporate and Sustainability Officer. “We could not be more honoured to play an integral role in Make-A-Wish Canada’s 40th anniversary celebration, bringing the care of our WestJetters to each Wish child and their families as they set off on this historic and life-changing trip.”
“We are proud to help make these wishes a reality by providing comprehensive travel insurance so that these incredible kids and families can experience the wonder of travel,” said Tim Bishop, Managing Director, Blue Cross of Canada. “This commitment is part of a larger pledge to Make-A-Wish Canada, which will support over 6,000 travel wishes for 26,000 Canadian families over the next few years. We applaud Make-A-Wish on this historic milestone and we are honoured to have been part of this legacy for the last 30 years. Congratulations to all wish family members and we can’t wait to see the joy on their faces as they embark on their long-awaited wish.”
“Children’s causes are important to us at Sofina Foods. We know first-hand the positive impact that wishes have, not only on each family, but on their entire community”, said Umeeda Madhany, President, Sofina Foundation. “We know that the positivity that each family will gain from this experience will spread back into each of their communities and enrich the lives of everyone they touch.”
ABOUT MAKE-A-WISH® CANADA
Make-A-Wish® creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We are on a quest to bring every eligible child’s wish to life because a wish is an integral part of a child’s treatment journey. Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness. As an independently operating affiliate of Make-A-Wish International, Make-A-Wish Canada is part of the network of the world’s leading children’s wish-granting organization. We serve children in every community in Canada, and in more than 50 countries worldwide. In 2023, Make-A-Wish Canada is proudly celebrating 40 years of wish granting, having granted more than 37,000 wishes since 1983, with over 1,000 of them last year alone. For more information about Make-A-Wish Canada, visit makeawish.ca.
In 27 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 110 destinations in 24 countries.
ABOUT BLUE CROSS:
The Canadian Association of Blue Cross Plans (Blue Cross of Canada) represents the independent Blue Cross Member Plans and Licensees operating in all regions nationally. These include Alberta Blue Cross, Canassurance Blue Cross (Quebec Blue Cross and Ontario Blue Cross), Manitoba Blue Cross, Medavie Blue Cross, Pacific Blue Cross and Saskatchewan Blue Cross. For more information, please visit www.bluecross.ca.
ABOUT THE SOFINA FOUNDATION
The Sofina Foundation is the charitable arm of Sofina Foods Inc., established in 2007, with a focus on supporting causes related to children’s issues. The Foundation has proudly partnered with various charities across Canada with an aim to positively impact the communities in which the Company operates. The Sofina Foundation received its formal charitable status at the beginning of 2014. From product donations, to sponsorships, along with numerous third-party partnerships, The Sofina Foundation continuously seeks to expand its impact.
ABOUT SOFINA FOODS INC.
Sofina Foods Inc. is a privately owned Canadian company headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Canada dedicated to providing great-tasting, high-quality food products for consumers. As one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of primary and further processed protein products for both retail and foodservice customers, Sofina Foods has a broad portfolio of branded and private label pork, beef, fish, turkey, and chicken products. Sofina’s family of branded products consists of Cuddy, Lilydale, Janes, Mastro, San Daniele, Fletcher’s, Vienna and Zamzam.
ABOUT DISNEY PARKS, EXPERIENCES AND PRODUCTS
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products brings the magic of The Walt Disney Company’s powerful brands and franchises — including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, ESPN, Twentieth Century Studios and National Geographic — into the daily lives of families and fans around the world to create magical memories that last a lifetime.
When Walt Disney opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California, on July 17, 1955, he created a unique destination built around storytelling and immersive experiences, ushering in a new era of family entertainment. More than 60 years later, Disney has grown into one of the world’s leading providers of family travel and leisure experiences, with iconic businesses including six resort destinations with 12 theme parks and 53 resorts in the United States, Europe and Asia; a toprated cruise line fleet of five ships with three more planned in the coming years; a luxurious family beach resort in Hawaii; a popular vacation ownership program; and two award-winning guided tour adventure businesses. Disney Imagineers are the creative force behind Disney theme parks, resort hotels and cruise ships globally.
Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing includes the world’s leading licensing business; one of the largest children’s publishing brands globally; one of the largest licensors of games across platforms worldwide; and consumer products at retail locations around the world.