Kids who suffered hardships sent to Disney on special trip

EWING TWP., N.J. -- The excitement started early Tuesday morning at Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing Township.

It was a special trip for an extra-special group, as the Mercer County Chapter of the Sunshine Foundation sponsored its annual "Operation Dreamlift."

The destination: Disney World. Said chaperone Michelle Anderson, "It's a dream come true."

180 people boarded a chartered plane, around 100 of them children. New Jersey State Police, local law enforcement, and other first responders lined up to see them off.

Little Angel Young high-fived the state troopers before bounding onto the plane.

And he reserved one high-five for Mickey Mouse. He clutched his own miniature stuffed Mickey in his hands, giddy about meeting the real one.

Some of the first responders will accompany the group, including Lieutenant Colonel Steven Shallop.

"The day from start to finish, there's a lot of moving around," Shallop told Action News. "And when we get to the park, it's all for them."

Some of these children are seriously ill or physically challenged, others have been abused or suffered other hardships.

On Tuesday, however, it was all smiles. Storm troopers, State troopers, Olaf and Goofy, were all there.

With hugs and thumbs up, even a dance competition on stage, the energy was high, as were expectations. 7-year-old Jamie Chavis of Lawrenceville said, "I'm hoping to get on some rides!"

Her mother Judy Chavis explained, "It's so special for me and my family. We've had a hardship this year (and we've) just relocated from home in Maple Shade. Me not having financial stability to be able to present this to her, I thought it was a great opportunity!"

So after a special send off, it was into the plane and up in the air for a day of fun in the Florida sun.
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