35 years of Sunshine

PHILADELPHIA - November 16, 2011

It started back in 1976, and the Sunshine Foundation has answered more than 36,000 dreams since then.

The memory-making continued Wednesday afternoon at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

The Sunshine Foundation granted 4-yr-old Ines Mitsoras and her family a trip to Disney World. Ines suffers from cerebral palsy.

Seven year old Bethany Nuwen suffers from tuberous sclerosis, but was literally jumping for joy, when she learned she too would be going to Disney World.

And parents like Cynthia Roller, know how much it means. Cynthia has three adopted special needs children, including 7 year old Alice, who has spina bifida, and enjoyed a Sunshine-sponsored trip to Disney World two years ago.

"They gave us a dream that we would never have been able to afford," Cynthia said.

Linda Kichula was at Wednesday's celebration. Her son, Bobby, diagnosed with leukemia, was granted the Foundation's very first dream; a vacation in the Poconos, more than three decades ago.

"At the time, it was something we didn't know we needed as a family," said Linda. "It was a time away from all the doctors where we could just smile."

Bobby later died, but there were so many reasons to enjoy life.

Seven year old Alexander Gonzalez heard about his dream trip to Disney World in April, when the Philly Phanatic came to his house to tell him.

"Thank you for taking me to Disney World," said Alexander. "I appreciate it so much."

Bill Sample, a police officer at St. Christopher's Hospital in 1976, was touched by the financial and emotional struggles the families had to endure seeking treatment for their sick children.

He started the organization with a $4,000 loan.

"The $4,000 was a Godsend, believe me," said Sample.

And the Sunshine Foundation has been a Godsend to so many families, and Bill Sample created a national model, for hundreds of other organizations that followed.

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