Mission

Sunshine Foundation answers the dreams of children, ages three through eighteen, who have severe or profound physical/developmental/intellectual challenges or trauma from physical/sexual abuse, and whose families have limited income.

Who We Help

Meet a Few of our Dreamers

Meet a few of the children on our Adopt-A-Dream waitlist. Become a Dream Maker by donating online today at the Donate Page. We need your help to make these dreams come true!

Benjamin, with spina bifida, dreams of visiting Disney to meet Spider-Man and Goofy and to spend time with his family.

Colton diagnosed with low-functioning autism loves shopping and dreams of a Shopping Spree for sensory items and toys.

Gracie loves to play with her brother and sister and doesn’t let cerebral palsy slow her down. Gracie’s dream is to go to Disney with her family.

Kendell, who has an immune-deficiency disorder, dreams of going to the Disney Theme Parks to meet all the characters, especially Darth Vader!

Justin, with Allan-Herndon-Dudley syndrome, dreams of going to Disney World to meet the characters. Justin loves music, animated cartoons, bright colors, and riding in the car.

Leslie, diagnosed with pulmonary atresia, likes to play with her doctor kit. She is also a huge fan of Minnie Mouse and dreams of meeting her at Disney World.

Mackenzie, with Sturge-Weber syndrome, had the left side of her brain removed. She LOVES Disney and dreams of going to Disney World.

Olivia has a rare eye condition, aniridia, which leaves her legally blind. Olivia dreams of going to Disney World to see Cinderella’s Castle and meet the princesses.

Our History

Original Wish Granting Non-Profit

In the 1960’s, Philadelphia police officer Bill Sample was assigned to a local children’s hospital. He encountered children with serious illnesses and saw first-hand how these children’s families were burdened not only by mounting medical bills, but also by the frustration of not being able to provide their children’s special dream. In November 1976, Bill decided to make difference.

He took out a personal loan and, with the help of others, sent Bobby, struggling with leukemia, and his family to the mountains to spend a week snowmobiling, sledding and simply enjoying what Bobby told his nurse he dreamed of “playing in the snow”. With the support of others, Bill formed Sunshine Foundation, the first wish granting 501c3, and began making dreams come true for children. Bill believed, “Not all children are able to run and play and enjoy life as easily as those who are healthy. Many children are innocent victims of birth defects, accidents and serious illness. Shouldn’t each child know that somebody cares enough to see his or her dream come true?” -Bill Sample

The Cop Who Spreads Sunshine

Reader’s Digest, Published September 1982 by Joseph P. Blank

Upon publication of this article in Reader’s Digest, the public reached out to Sunshine Foundation to referral their child as well as to make donations to support Bill’s efforts. Bill retired early from the Philadelphia Police Department to devote his time fully to growing the Sunshine Foundation.

Dreamlift Program

First Dreamlift of Children with Special Needs to the Magic Kingdom

Back in the early 1980s, Bill Sample decided to charter an airplane to send groups of children to visit “The Mouse” for a day! So began the unique concept of Dreamlifts! Sunshine Foundation has sponsored 98 Dreamlifts which included 108 chartered airplanes. Children board the airplane in the wee hours of the morning then are whisked off to sunny Florida.

Sunshine dreamers can then enjoy a day that will provide memories that will last a lifetime! Presently, Sunshine’s Mercer County All-Volunteer Chapter, the Trenton Mercer Community, including NJ State Troopers along with Miami Air International, help Sunshine give these deserving children a once in a lifetime experience that allows them to forget their daily challenges

Progeria Reunions

Progeria Awareness brought to the World stage

In1980, it was brought to Bill and Sunshine Foundation’s attention that a young boy in South Africa had a dream to visit Pinocchio. The inspiration for Fransie’s dream came as he saw himself in a mirror. Due to his aged appearance, which is a symptom among many of Hutchinson Guilford Syndrome, Fransie felt in some way he was related to this wooden puppet. Upon learning of Francie’s dream, Sunshine Foundation flew Fransie and his family to Disneyland where he saw Pinocchio.

After publication of an article about Fransie’s dream come true, Sunshine began receiving correspondence from other families whose children had similar characteristics. That following June 1981 Sunshine sponsored the first gathering of all known children suffering from Huchinson-Guildford Progeria. The following June, the first of 27 Annual Progeria Reunions took place that included bringing all children from throughout the world together so, as Bill wanted it, “the children would not feel alone”.

Sunshine Foundation is proud to have brought the awareness of children with Progeria to the world’s attention that would go on to inspire another organization to work to find a cure.

Sunshine Foundation Staff

Kate Sample

President

Nicci Yu

Director of Program Services

Maryanne Snyder

Program Services Assistant
part-time

Virginia Barrett

Bookkeeper
part-time

Rich Mergo

Director of Development

Kim Hearn

Technology & Volunteer Manager
part-time

Wanda Curtis

Dream Village Director

Robin Bentley

Dream Village Assistant

National Board of Directors

Amanda E. Agati, CFA

Chief Investment Officer, Managing Executive, Investments
PNC Financial Services Group
(Chairperson/Treasurer)

Jacquelyn J. Ager

Partner
Eckert Seamans
(Secretary)

Michael Ksiazek, Esq.

Shareholder
Stark & Stark

Keith Luka

Director of Facilities Operations
Orange Lake Resort

Julio A. Rodriguez

Executive Director of Housekeeping
Hilton Grand Vacations

Christopher W. Shermer, CPA

Director of Accounting
Pennsylvania Property & Casualty Insurance Guaranty Assoc.

Amy Welde

Manager, Department of Hospital Medicine Administration
Cooper Health

Kate Sample

President
Sunshine Foundation
(Non-voting)

Martha (Frannie) Reilly, Esq.

Member
McNees Wallace & Nurick, LLC
(Legal Counsel)

Sunshine Foundation’s

Frequently Asked Questions

Sunshine Foundation is the original wish granting organization established in 1976 by former Philadelphia police officer Bill Sample. While on protective duty at a Philadelphia area children’s hospital, Bill witnessed firsthand the financial and emotional burden placed on the families of children with illnesses. He saw that so many families could not afford to give their sick child a wish. Bill, with the help of a handful of other dedicated people, got together to answer Sunshine Foundation’s first dream- a trip to the Pocono Mountains for Bobby, who wanted to see the mountains and play in the snow. Bobby passed away a short while after that, but not before his only wish was realized.

Sunshine Foundation answers the dreams of children that are chronically ill, seriously ill, physically challenged or have been abused, ages 3-18, from income-limited families in the United States.

Over 80% of all expenses of the Sunshine Foundation go directly towards granting the dreams of children served by our programs. We have answered more than 41,500 dreams for children since 1976.

The Sunshine Foundation Dream Village is an enchanted village with 9 fairytale themed cottages set on 22 acres in Central Florida. This is where most of our families stay when they visit Central Florida theme parks and attractions. The village offers, for the dreamer and their immediate family, a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere where they can enjoy a specially equipped playground, wheelchair accessible pool, and a miniature golf course, all designed to be accessible for children at any ability level.

Those with internet capabilities must visit our request a dream page, fill out and submit the form that appears on that page. If a family is without the internet, please direct them to send a letter via U.S. mail to our PA office that states the child’s full name, age, and diagnosis, along with the parent or guardian’s full name, mailing address, and phone number. Once we receive this information, we will then send out an application to the family if the child’s diagnosis is eligible.

Once we receive all required paperwork (application, financials, medical authorization, etc.) it will take 1 to 3 months for the application to be processed. Once the application has been processed, you will receive a letter by mail informing you if your child has been approved.

The most popular dream requested is the Central Florida Theme Parks. Sunshine Foundation may arrange for your child and their immediate family living in the home (siblings 18 years old and under at the time of approval) to stay at our very own Dream Village. Other dream requests include funding towards a special gift or item of interest, or, funding towards adaptive equipment that their insurances may not cover. Please note, a requested item must first be approved before estimates are required. The maximum amount Sunshine Foundation will provide towards an approved item or gift is up to $2,000.00 towards the parent/guardian’s private purchase. If the child’s dream is for a shopping spree Sunshine Foundation will provide a check for the maximum amount of $1,000.00. Once a child is approved you may discuss your child’s dream with the Program Services Department.

Sunshine Foundation is unable to assist with doctor/medical bills or living expenses. We must also work within certain financial limitations and permissible requests. Your child’s medical and/or travel restrictions or other related or unrelated circumstances may also affect the dream we are able to provide.

Once you receive an approval letter, your child will be placed on our waiting list. Please be aware Sunshine Foundation does have a waiting list that may possibly be several years depending on our funding sources. Please be patient and be assured that we are working as quickly as possible to answer your child’s dream.

You can help by making a donation online or by regular mail in memory or in honor of a loved one, or by contributing through other options available here. You may also join in the efforts of one of our all-volunteer chapters.

Yes! You can donate online or send a check to Sunshine Foundation 101 Lakeside Park, Southampton PA 18966. Just indicate the child’s name in the memo section on the check, or in comments of the online donation. You may also visit our www.adoptadream.org page and choose a specific child to donate to or start a group fundraising effort to raise funds for that child.

Financials and Reports

990-Public – Tax Return

Form 990 is used by tax-exempt organizations, nonexempt charitable trusts, and section 527 political organizations to provide the IRS with the information required by section 6033.

Sunshine Foundation Audited Financials

The financial statements referred to in this PDF present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Sunshine Foundation of the most recently audited year and changes in its net assets and its cash flows for the years then ended in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

Program Activities Report

Program impact at a glance, read the most updated activities report about our programs.

Gift Acceptance Policy

Sunshine Foundation will accept only those gifts that are consistent with the mission, goals, and purpose, and which sustain the mission of Sunshine Foundation.