London Teen Pays his Dream Forward

At the age of 12, Samuel Van Arnhem received a letter that he was approved for a customized dream come true with The Sunshine Foundation of Canada, a national charity that fulfills life-changing dreams for kids living with severe physical disabilities. At the time, Samuel had so many dream ideas which he couldn’t decide on, most of which involved mixing travel with his passions.

Samuel is now a 16-year-old student at Laurier S.S. He describes himself as a cool, friendly, and persistent guy who loves taking part in sports like wheelchair basketball, downhill skiing, and Phys Ed class with his friends. He’s a big fan of rock and heavy metal like Led Zeppelin and Van Halen, is an avid reader and enjoys the building process of Lego kits and Minecraft.

At first, Samuel had a big dream to travel to New Zealand and meet the cast of the Lord of the Rings, a dream that would take a lot of coordination since the films were released the same year he was born! Over the course of three years, Sunshine worked with Samuel to explore various opportunities that could ensure he would have the optimal dream experience.

Then the pandemic hit. All travel stopped. Sunshine had to contact a number of dreamers to share that traveling would not be safe for the foreseeable future. Sunshine spoke about considering other life-changing dreams that could help boost young peoples’ mental health and inspire their futures. Dreams like fitness and movement, creativity and style, outdoor adventure, tech gear, and connection were still safe to deliver during the past two years of uncertainty.

But Samuel was still struggling with his ideal dream....

Over the Christmas holiday in 2020, after long discussions with his family, Samuel decided not to continue holding on to his dream and not to try waiting until travel was possible again – especially since it was unknown how long it would take for the world to safely open. “He had so many great opportunities with us,” his mom shares, “He swam with dolphins when he was young, and at 13 years old, we went on a big family trip to Disney. Travel is a lot easier now that he’s older and we know we’ll have many more opportunities in his future". So Samuel decided to ask Sunshine to pay his dream forward to other kids.

Samuel concluded, “Although I struggled at first, I’m happy other people like me have a chance at a life-changing opportunity. It is a good lesson that I will remember and feel great about in my future.”

The Sunshine Foundation of Canada relies solely on donations from individuals and businesses to sustain our dream program and meet the growing needs of dreamers living with severe physical disabilities. Support a Sunshine Dream in your community by making a donation. 

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