Sponsor a Disney Dream Trip traveler

Visiting a Disney theme park is surely something most Americans (and even non-Americans) take for granted they will do these days, probably more than once in a lifetime.

Not so for the majority of BrickWays’ clients.

“I’ve never been out of Michigan. I’ve never been anywhere. I’ve never flown,” says 29-year-old BrickWays College Park resident Linda M.

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The farthest 24-year-old CLC resident Abe H. has traveled was to Cedar Point for the first time last year.

“I loved the rides!” says Abe.

Even 30-something Erin D. who grew up in California and recalls a visit to Disney Land when she was small is excited.

“It’s like a fantasy. I think it’s just a magical, wonderful, experience,” says the CLC resident.

These are three of the more than a dozen (16 at last count) clients and residents who are working hard to save for BrickWays’ planned spring 2019 trip to Disney World in Orlando, Fla. They will travel by van down to Detroit to fly out on Monday, May 6, 2019, spend five days at a Disney Resort hotel, visit three theme parks of choice in groups of four clients and one staff, spend one of their days relaxing at the hotel, visit DisneySprings (formerly Downtown Disney), then fly back to Michigan.

“We are calling it the ‘Disney Dream Trip,’” says Susan Onan-Swartz, BrickWay sexecutive director. “Most of these individuals never even thought this was something they would ever be able to do.”

Onan-Swartz went down in May to fine-tune the necessary details, adding an extra staff person as a backup and float as needed, as a result. The trip, she says, is so much more than just fun in the sun.

“This hands-on experience fast tracks many social skills our clients may lack or find challenging, that can cause them to feel isolated and left out. We believe this venture will culminate in marked improvement in their ability to interact in a community environment,” she says. “Clients will be learning safety, travel, manners, self-control and other skills from August right through the trip.”

On the financial front, each client must raise $1,500 for the trip, with a $300 non-refundable deposit that was due July 16.

Many trip participants attended the annual spring beer pairing at Boone’s Long Lake Inn to share what this dream-trip opportunity means to them and offer thanks for donor support.

A fundraising yard sale at the CLC house over the Memorial Day weekend brought
in just over $2,000 and another sale is planned for Saturday, Aug. 18. Clients and staff worked many hours before, during and after the first sale. Clients assisted shoppers by carrying purchased items to cars, moving countless bins and boxes for setup beforehand and cleaning up at the end. Those hours were counted and earned them funds to be put toward the individual cost of the trip.

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Precision Cares granted $1,000 and Chemical Bank $3,000 to the activity fund to support social learning and the Disney trip.

And, in a most memorable day, Westwind Construction let us practice flying on their corporate plane!

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While most clients are making great strides toward making the Disney Dream Trip come true by working hard, saving pennies and so on, there are a few who may not make it without a little extra help.

BrickWays is asking individuals and businesses to consider sponsoring individual identified as the most in need. Full sponsorship would cover the $1,500 cost of the trip. Partial sponsorships of $1,000 and $500 are also available.

Full sponsors will have the opportunity to be interviewed for a front-page article in an upcoming newsletter, says Onan-Swartz, and all sponsors will receive active promotional thanks during the trip. That aspect should not be downplayed or dismissed, she says.

“The individuals who are being sponsored are also being taught how important it is to recognize and appreciate when people help you, especially with something of this magnitude.”

Sponsors will gain something else too — a chance to share the excitement of a first-time visit to the “magical world of Disney,” to see it once again through fresh, excited eyes.

Susan Onan