Florida Blueberry Festival™ Beneficiaries
Sunshine Foundation’s sole purpose is to answer the dreams of chronically ill, seriously ill, physically challenged and abused children ages three to eighteen, whose families cannot fulfill their requests due to financial strain that the child’s illness may cause.
“Not all children are able to run and play and enjoy life. Many are innocent victims of birth defects, accidents and deadly diseases. Shouldn’t each child know that somebody cares enough to see his or her dream come true?”
Bill Sample founded Sunshine Foundation in 1976. Sunshine Foundation was an idea born during his many years as a Philadelphia police officer. In 1962, following three years of service in the United States Army, Sample joined the Philadelphia police force. Stationed on protective duty at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Bill often met chronically ill or terminally ill children and their families. Through talking with the families, he learned the emotional and financial strain that comes with having a seriously ill child. Mounting medical bills and time off from work made providing their child with what could be their last dream seem out of reach.
Bill Sample decided he was going to make a difference in these children’s lives. After taking out a personal loan and gathering a small group of dedicated volunteers, Bill founded Sunshine Foundation, the Original Wish Granting Organization, with the mission of answering the dreams of chronically ill, seriously ill, physically challenged and abused children ages three to eighteen, whose families cannot fulfill their requests due to the financial strain that the child’s illness may cause. Sunshine Foundation answered the first dream in January of 1977 for four year old Bobby, who dreamed of playing in the snow in the Poconos. Bobby’s dream came true just four short months before he lost his brave battle with Leukemia.
Bill worked hard at answering dreams while still maintaining his position with the police force until he retired in 1983 to dedicate his efforts full time to Sunshine Foundation. With Bills direction, Sunshine Foundation has grown to include the Dream Village, a 22 square acre property, 15 miles of the Orlando theme parks, where children and their families stay in one of 9 fairytale themed cottages and enjoy a handicapped accessible playground, a wheelchair accessible pool and a miniature golf course during their stay.
As a way of extending the most popular dream of visiting the Florida attractions to children, whose conditions do not allow them to be away from home for longer than 24 hours, Bill and Sunshine began Dreamlifts. Sunshine has answered over 5000 dreams in this unique program, which charters a plane and takes close to 100 children to an Orlando theme park for a one-day trip!