It was a trip of a lifetime for Houston’s Laecy Olson.
In the predawn hours of Dec. 11, Laecy, who turned 16 on Dec. 8, flew off from Vancouver International Airport via Alaska Airlines for a one-day whirlwind visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Diagnosed at age 11 with myotonic dystrophy, Laecy, along with more than 70 other children and young people living with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses, and accompanied by medical staff and volunteers, were the guests of the Sunshine Foundation of Canada, a non-profit offering a variety of services.
Its trip to California, the Dec. 11 one was the 64th Dreamlift hosted by the foundation, featured small-group tours, each accompanied by volunteers under the guidance of a sheriff from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Over the course of the jam-packed day, Laecy and others experienced the sights and sounds of Disneyland.
In advance of the tour, Laecy chose the Jungle Tour and the Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted House as must see, but in the end, declared the Pirates of the Caribbean as her favourite.
Following the full day, the group flew back to Vancouver, landing at around midnight to the applause of family and volunteers.
Myotonic dystrophy is a form of muscular dystrophy, described as a long-term genetic disorder that affects muscle function. Symptoms include gradually worsening muscle loss and weakness.
Diagnosed at age 11, Laecy has been a regular visitor to B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver since 2014.
“One of the physiotherapists during her last visit is a volunteer for the Sunshine Foundation Dreamlift, which does this trip every five years. She asked if we would like an application,” explained mom Corrina Bodnar.
“Being that this would be the last time Laecy would be eligible (age wise), they were going to try to put her at the top of the list,” she said.
Laecy’s visits to B.C. Children’s Hospital are such that her neurologist and pediatrician coordinate clinics that allow children to visit all specialists at the same time, rather than separate visits, Corrina adds.
That involves appointments with cardiologists, neurologists, physio therapists and endocrinologists.
“The great thing is that the specialists from many departments in Vancouver make regular trips and appointments in the North, too. So Terrace and Prince George offices help with travel for us Northerners,” Corrina continued.
At home in Houston, Laecy attends physio two times a week as well as regular exercise at home or at the pool.