Spirits Lifted
DreamLift makes a difference in the lives of deserving children, with the help of the OARA and ARC sponsoring the 50th Sunshine DreamLift.
On April 24, Ed MacDonald, of Maritime Auto Salvage and the Second Vice President of the Automotive Recyclers Association, was one of several members of the automotive recycling industry who volunteered as a companion to one of eighty physically disabled and terminally ill children at the Sunshine Foundation’s annual DreamLift event.

“I thought it was a great idea from the start,” said MacDonald, “and the business was keen on it, but I personally love to help out as much as possible.” MacDonald also believes that “it’s really important to share and to give to the community.”

After the trip, MacDonald exclaimed, “It was an awesome experience!“

The DreamLift is one of the Sunshine Foundation’s biggest events. An annual, whirlwind adventure for approximately 80 children to places such as the Disney World theme park, DreamLift is being sponsored this year by the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA) and the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC), through vehicle retirement programs such as Car Heaven and Retire Your Ride.

For several years, Canada’s automotive recyclers have been giving back to the community by being a special partner at The Sunshine Foundation, the only national Canadian charity to provide individual dreams to children with severe physical disabilities as well as life-threatening illnesses.

As always, each child will be accompanied by a companion since one of DreamLift’s most interesting features is that moms and dads aren’t invited to come along. These children are able to enjoy a small measure of independence, since their physical disabilities and life-threatening illnesses often prevent them from having this.

These companions are often a health care provider, but volunteers are always welcome, and the following members of the auto recycling industry will be on the DreamLift as companions:

Steve Fletcher, Automotive Recyclers of Canada
Ed MacDonald, Maritime Auto Salvage
Mary Poirier, Valley Automotive
Tom Huehn, 400 Auto Wreckers
Carolyn Carcone, Carcone’s Auto Recycling
Cathy Ferrell, Modern Auto Parts
Jennifer Cormack, Sonshine Auto Parts
Carl Pesant, Ontario Auto Recyclers Association
Gloria Mann, Canadian Auto Recyclers magazine

Beyond Words

“It was a fabulous experience to represent the Members on the Ottawa 2012 DreamLift, said Steve Fletcher, Managing Director, ARC and Executive Director, OARA. “Most of the volunteers were up for 23 hours straight doing everything they could to make this a memorable event for the kids. The excitement and memories made it all worthwhile. It should make everyone mindful of the health they do have and live life to the fullest – these kids certainly did.”

“You know, sometimes we live, work, and hibernate in the auto recycling trenches and rarely come up for air,” says Ed MacDonald. “But when a DreamLift came along, I was intrigued to have the opportunity to participate. If you get the chance, you, too, should share the day with some of the most endearing youth you will find on the planet.

“These challenged youth are all very happy because people took their time to share a picture perfect day in Disney World with them. Our task was to say ‘yes’ to any request they had and if that included five pounds of cotton candy, so be it! ... But please don’t send me on the magic mountain ride again, please?”

“There is no other time in my life when the need to ‘Stop and Count your Blessings’ has been so incredibly true,” says Mary Poirier, Valley Automotive.

“The experience was so rewarding! I will always remember all the smiles and the energy all the children had throughout the day,” shares Jennifer Cormack, Sonshine Auto Parts. “It’s hard to explain in words how wonderful it was to be a part of that one day that the children got to ‘forget’ about the busy life of hospitals and appointments. It was just a carefree day of unlimited opportunities. This whole experience was so heartwarming, to get see all these incredible children full of joy and excitement.”

The mother of participant Kaitlin Hopper shared, “Just like all the other kids she has been dealt a difficult hand, but she tries gets up every day with a smile on her face. It is wonderful that she can be rewarded for all her strength and courage with this wonderful adventure!” said Brittany Hopper. “I cried when I picked her up from the airport when she got back ... not from fear or frustration, but because for once she looked so happy and because I was so grateful that she got to go with such wonderful people and forget about her illness for a while.”

“There was so much learned and experienced by all of us who were buddies to the children on the DreamLift out of Ottawa,” said Tom Huehn, 400 Auto Wreckers, as he shares about a life-changing moment.

“For me the most important lesson learned was seeing beyond the disability. I have had very little interaction with kids with disabilities or chronic disease. My family and friends have all been active and healthy. Little Jacob is a young boy struggling with muscular disease. He cannot walk. He gets around in a wheel chair. I had been goofing around with Jacob over the course of the afternoon at the hotel and we knew each other by name.

“At the end of the evening meeting I was standing in the hall with a small group when Jacob was rolled out of the meeting room by his mom. Jacob said to me, ‘Tom do you want to see me dance?’ We had been instructed in the meeting that YES was the word of the day and there where no NOs. I said, ‘sure would.’ With that said he flopped out of his chair onto the floor and proceeded to do a break dancing routine that ended with Jacob standing on his head.

“I sure didn’t see that coming,” notes Huehn. “I had the opportunity to spend a day with the most courageous kids there are, with the most dedicated care givers and volunteers, U.S. Marshalls, and RCMP Officers who displayed such tenderness as they carried those kids in there arms on and off the plane, and on and off the Disney rides. It just does not get better than that.”

“As we struggle through our daily business cycles,” MacDonald says, “let’s take some precious time to be mindful of those less fortunate than ourselves. The rewards of the receiver and giver are incalculable.”

For more information on the Sunshine Foundation, please visit

Caryn Smith is the editor of Automotive Recycling magazine.

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