When dreams take flight
Benefit ball raises $20,000 for sick kids

Cindy MacDougall
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 16/00) - Three sick children will have a special wish granted after a gala evening raised over $20,000 Saturday.

Great Slave Helicopter's hangar was transformed into a ballroom for the second annual Flight for Dreams dinner and dance, which raised money for the NWT/Nunavut sub-chapter of the Children's Wish Foundation.

"With the silent auction and the ticket sales, we've raised $20,000 and counting," said sub-chapter president Teri Arychuk. "That will pay for over three wishes. It's just amazing."

Arychuk said Children's Wish decided on a ritzy charity ball instead of a run or another fund-raiser because it was different.

"I've lived here all my life and I know how much fun it is to get dressed up and go out," she said. "February is right in the middle of the winter blahs, when not a lot is happening."

Great Slave Helicopters donated their hangar to the cause, along with three days of hard work to move the machines and clean out every speck of dirt and grease.

"It's really the only place in town where the maximum amount of money would go to the donation," said Ian Campbell, Great Slave's vice-president of flight operations.

"Our best friend's son was diagnosed with leukemia and had a wish granted. It's a great organization," said president Adam Bembridge. "He ended up surviving, but it was close for awhile."

Those best friends were the Arychuks, and her son's experience led to Arychuk's involvement with the foundation.

Only children with life-threatening illnesses are granted a wish. Although it can be sad, Arychuk said a granted wish can help the child and the family.

"It's not just granting a wish, it's those magical memories for the family," she said.

As for the 350 guests, combining a good cause and glitz ended up as a magical evening.

Andrew and Fiona MacKay left their little one, Molly, with a babysitter for the first time Saturday night. Andrew said his new role as a parent has changed his view.

"Whenever you become a parent, your eyes are open to all the possibilities of what could happen to your child," he said.

"Most fund-raisers are aimed toward finding a cure and medical research. What I like about this is it raises money for the families who may be strapped for cash and unable to provide a little extra the child needs."

Arychuk could not say whether any Northern children are currently waiting for a wish to be granted, however, the fund-raiser will ensure plenty of money will be available to grant a sick child his or her request.