Inspirational Stories - Northern Lights Children’s Charity Light Up Oliver’s Life with Disneyland Magic!
My name is Siobhan and I live in Chester with my 7-year-old son, Oliver, who has cerebral palsy and global developmental delay. Oliver is a full-time wheelchair user and needs a lot of care, but he is also adventurous, imaginative and never stops talking!
We were lucky enough to be selected to go to Disneyland Paris in November 2019 as guests of Northern Lights Children’s Charity – which is the official charity of the Essar Chester Half Marathon, MBNA Chester Marathon & Metric Marathon. Northern Lights is a local charity who provide trips of a lifetime to children living with life limiting conditions. Every year they take 20 children to meet Father Christmas in snowy Lapland & occasionally, if fundraising permits, additional trips like this one, to Disneyland Paris.
I’m no stranger to running and ran in the 2019 Essar Chester Half Marathon. At the MBNA Chester Marathon, I volunteered as a marshal and was stationed on Sandy Lane where I enjoyed cheering on all the runners – especially the Northern Lights purple ones! One of the highlights of the day, was when one of the Northern Lights charity runners sought me out to give me a big hug as she knew my son and I had been selected to go on this trip of a lifetime.
Oliver knew nothing about the trip until we had a pre-trip meeting with the other families. He would have been far too excited and probably would have tried to pack his bag there and then! Once he knew about it, his levels of enthusiasm were so high, he immediately went home and announced to his 4 year old sister “Pack your bags, we’re going to Disneyland!” Unfortunately, she wasn’t, it was just Oliver and I but the princess mad four-year-old took it very well.
Departure day arrived and Northern Lights were amazing right from the off. They arranged flights, hotels, meals and transfers for Oliver and I, plus the other 9 children, their carer’s and 4 charity escorts. I was very nervous as Oliver has a lot of care needs and I would be his sole carer for 3 nights in a different country, but I needn’t have worried as Northern Lights’ experience in providing these trips shone through. They had arranged for us to stay at a hotel right at the entrance to the theme park, meaning we could nip back as and when required and not miss out on any of the fun! Oliver loved the fact that the bedroom had Tinkerbell on the door and would say hello and goodbye to her whenever we left or returned to the room. Tinkerbell felt very popular that weekend. 😊
Disneyland Paris is HUGE and I wouldn’t have known where to start! Again, Northern Lights had it covered with an itinerary including group meet ups for meals and shows & all the ‘not to be missed’ parts of the park. Oliver’s favourite parts were meeting the Disney characters, the parades and the shows. He loved interacting with them and even asked Cinderella if she would accompany him to the Mickey Mouse show. He might have to work on his chat up lines though, since Cinderella politely declined! Oliver also loved the Toy Story area of the park and insisted that we visit it each day. As the trip was the end of November Disneyland was decorated ready for Christmas. There were lights, trees and decorations everywhere, even fake snow. It somehow made the whole trip feel more magical.
Three nights and four days went very quickly and soon it was time for us to leave. Northern Lights’ escorts were worth their weight in gold, helping us with our bags from the door of our room, right through to check in at the airport. They had even made sure that the ambulift was available for us as there were 8 wheelchair users in the group.
It was absolutely the trip of Oliver’s lifetime and I have Northern Lights and the runners that raise sponsorship for them to thank. Their fundraising really does mean so much to the children and families that benefit from these trips. Many, like Oliver have spent a large amount of their childhood within the confines of hospital routines, living with daily uncertainty, challenge and emotional strain. Northern Lights allow them to have fairy-tale experiences and create precious memories that are a long way from everyday life.
Thank you so much.
Siobhan & Oliver & all the Northern Lights families.
Ho Ho Go!
Make January count with our Ho Ho Go! challenge, where YOU set your own goal, whether it’s to run or walk each day, cover 100 miles in a month on legs, wheels or water, or a one off challenge to stay active.
YOU choose & WE reward you with a marvellous medal. Share your journey with us & you could win a place in the 2021 event of your choice.
Our aim is to help raise funds for Northern Lights Children's charity and inspire the population to have fun, keep active during the festive and New Year period to beat the usual Chrimbo Limbo inactivity.
100% of Ho Ho Go's profits will go straight to Northern Lights, entrants have the option to include an additional donation to the charity during the entry process.
Join Team Northern Lights in one of our other 2021 events.
Never miss our training runs or special offers!
Charlie Hulson in 2018
Elizabeth Renondeau in 2021
|1st||Gavin Tomlinson (Chorlton Runners)||1:29:13|
|2nd||James Meader (Derby AC)||1:33:41|
|3rd||David Morris (City of Stoke AC)||1:34:27|
|1st||Lindsay Fisher (West Cheshire AC)||1:47:30|
|2nd||Kate Wells (Telford AC)||1:50:10|
|3rd||Carla Green (North Wales Road Runners)||1:53:02|
As with all such events, our events would not be possible without the help of a huge team of volunteers.Find out more.