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MONTREAL, Dec. 7, 2016 /CNW/ - For 90 minutes in the skies over Canada today, hundreds of children living with severe illnesses, and their families, were treated to an unforgettable experience, when they were greeted by Santa Claus on special flights organized by The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada and Air Transat.
The flights, which took off from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, were part of Air Transat's 12th annual Flights in Search of Santa, a joint effort in partnership with Children's Wish Foundation of Canada. And for the second year in a row, a flight from Paris carrying some 50 sick children and their families also took off in search of Santa.
Air Transat also used the flights as an opportunity to announce a further $98 975 donation to Children's Wish, which represents the amounts collected over the past year as part of the air carrier's Small Change, Big Hearts program and other initiatives, and is in addition to the over $5 million raised for Children's Wish since the inception of the partnership between the two organizations.
"There is truly nothing better than seeing a child smile in wonderment, and we in turn are delighted to bring a little magic into the lives of hundreds of children across Canada and in France," said Jean-Francois Lemay, President, Air Transat. "The Flights in Search of Santa is at the core of our partnership with The Children's Wish Foundation and is the Air Transat family's favourite event of the year."
The memorable day began at the Air Transat check-in counter at Montréal-Trudeau airport, where some 250 passengers, including children living with severe illnesses, along with members of their families, received their boarding passes for the North Pole. They then made their way to the boarding lounge, where a number of festive activities awaited. Finally, they took their seats in the aircraft for a 90-minute flight during which Santa Claus made a surprise appearance and distributed presents to the wide-eyed children.
"We are very happy to have this amazing support from Air Transat, our loyal partner, and to be able to offer this magical experience to sick children and their families once again this year" declared Juli Meilleur, Provincial Director, Quebec, at Children's Wish Foundation of Canada. When a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, the life of the entire family falls apart. Today, we're not just providing respite from hospital visits, we're creating wonderful memories to cherish, that are unique to our Wish Families."
The annual Flights in Search of Santa are made possible thanks to the generous collaboration of several partners including Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto Pearson, Vancouver International airports and Roissy Charles de Gaules airport, and the volunteer efforts of Air Transat employees.
For more information, follow the #SantaFlight hashtag on social media.
Small Change, Big Hearts
The Small Change, Big Hearts program is supported by the donation of pocket change from Air Transat passengers at the end of each flight. Since December 2009, funds raised through the program have been donated in equal parts to The Children's Wish Foundation and to SOS Children's Villages, an international organization that assists orphaned and abandoned children in 134 countries.
About Children's Wish Foundation of Canada
Children's Wish Foundation of Canada is the largest all Canadian wish granting charity dedicated to granting wishes to Canadian children between the ages of 3 and 17 who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. For more than 30 years, Children's Wish has worked tirelessly to grant heartfelt wishes to nearly 25,000 children and their families.
Last year we granted nearly 1200 wishes, our largest wish granting year in our 32 year history. With the help of our generous donors and volunteers, we will continue to meet the increasing need of Canadian children to realize their single-most heartfelt wish. Children's Wish grants approximately three wishes each and every day, all year long. In Quebec alone, over 7,500 children have been granted their most heartfelt wish and we continue to grant approximately 300 new wishes every year. Each wish is carefully structured to meet the particular needs of the child and their family.
We continue to receive strong wish referral support through our medical community relationships to grant wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. Now more than ever, we are encouraging Canadians to donate and support Children's Wish Foundation of Canada to help us continue to grant the next most heartfelt wish. Children's Wish is a national charity with chapters in every province and territory. Visit www.childrenswish.ca for more information and to donate.
About Air Transat
Air Transat is Canada's number one holiday travel airline in the Canadian and transatlantic markets. Every year, it carries some three million passengers to approximately 60 destinations in 25 countries. Based in Montreal, the company employs more than 2,500 people and operates a fleet of Boeing narrow-body and Airbus wide-body jets. In 2016, Air Transat was named Best North American Leisure Airline for the fifth consecutive year by Skytrax. In recent years, the carrier has earned multiple distinctions for its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint. Since 2011, it has consistently ranked number one in North America for energy efficiency, and in the Top 20 worldwide, by the Atmosfair Airline Index. Air Transat is a business unit of Transat A.T. Inc., a leading integrated international tourism company active in air transportation, accommodation, travel packaging and distribution. Transat was awarded Travelife Partner status in 2016 in recognition of its commitment to sustainable development. The preferred partner of vacationers, it will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2017.
SOURCE Air Transat
Image with caption: "Air Transat’s 12th annual Flight in Search of Santa, a joint effort in partnership with Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada (CNW Group/Air Transat)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20161207_C8973_PHOTO_EN_834623.jpg
Image with caption: "Air Transat’s 12th annual Flight in Search of Santa, a joint effort in partnership with Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada (CNW Group/Air Transat)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20161207_C8973_PHOTO_EN_834625.jpg
For further information: Valérie Dupuis, North Strategic, 514 622-4843, firstname.lastname@example.org; Sandra Murray, Communication and Development Specialist, Children's Wish Foundation, 514 289-1777, ext. 2181, email@example.com