Three youngsters in Hay River got the surprise of a lifetime last week.
At a Sept. 23 assembly at Princess Alexandra School, they were called to the front and handed golden tickets for a trip to Disneyland.
“I got an adrenalin rush right through my body,” said Albert Rymer, a 12-year-old student in Grade 7. “It’s like, ‘Is that my name?’ They must have got it wrong.”
The two other students – 12-year-old Harvey Havioyak-Kolaohok and 10-year-old Samara Tambour-Wilson – also shared that excitement and amazement.
Samara, who is in Grade 5, said it was shocking to be called up to receive a prize.
“I couldn’t even hear what the prize was for,” she said. “My legs were just shaking.”
“I think it’s great,” said Harvey, a Grade 7 student. “It feels like a dream.”
And they didn’t have long to think about what the trip to Disneyland would be like.
They left on Tuesday, and were to be in Disneyland press day on Sept. 30.
The trip is part of a program called Dreams Take Flight, which is a charity created by employees of Air Canada.
“This is the very first time anybody from Hay River has ever gone on this program,” said Jennifer Tweedie, a teacher at Princess Alexandra School.
Tweedie, who is on leave this year, brought the program to her school.
“I found out about it at the beginning of last year,” she said.
Tweedie said the students will have a whirlwind trip to Disneyland in California.
She will fly with the students to Yellowknife on Buffalo Airways, which is a supporter of the program, and then on to Edmonton. There, the students will join a Dreams Take Flight team and be off to Disneyland.
“It’s a day at Disney,” said Tweedie. “So everything is VIPed. They’re first in the lines. They don’t wait. Everything is paid for. They get lots of swag. They’re outfitted from head to toe. Their parents had to measure their feet and get their weight, and all of this had to be kind of done on the QT.”
The students will each get a cap, a T-shirt, shorts and Crocs to change into at the airport.
Samara’s mother, Sarah Samok, nominated her daughter for the trip, and said it was difficult to keep it a secret after being told about it a week before the announcement.
She is really excited for her daughter, who had never been to Disneyland.
“She’ll have a lot of fun and a lot of stories to tell for many years to come,” said Samok.
Tweedie is hoping that the trips will be awarded annually at Princess Alexandra School, but she said there are no guarantees that will happen.
Dreams Take Flight has existed for 25 years.
It selects children – aged from nine to 12 years – to have the chance to go on a trip of a lifetime based on a range of criteria.