Hospital employees help children with special healthcare needs get up close and personal with their favorite animal
The anticipation and excitement in the eyes of VIP guests and their families at Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure's annual Dream Night gives you a sense for the memories made at this event.
Staff and volunteers at Rolling Hills Wildlife Refuge understand the connection between children and animals. They get to witness firsthand how children's interactions with animals touch their lives, and see the calming, therapeutic effects brought on by spending time with animals.
Dream Night is an event replicated at many zoos around the world, which provides a special evening of entertainment and activity for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and physical disabilities. Last year 436 guests took part in the activities, which included live musical entertainment, games and the ever-popular animal encounters.
"Every year we try to accommodate more and more area families and this year we had a 60 percent increase in attendees," said Vickee Spicer, one of the event organizers at Rolling Hills. "It's truly a magical evening and we were pleased to be able to host families from a wider geographic area than in years past."
The Salina Regional Health Foundation also understands the benefit Dream Night offers to these children and supported Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure's fourth annual Dream Night with a $5,000 sponsorship through its Community Health Investment Program.
In addition, thirty-five employees from Salina Regional Health Center also volunteered to help direct traffic through the park and assisted guests participating in activities.
"The children seemed to be truly enjoying themselves and they were so engaged in the activities," said Ava O'Flannagan, one of Salina Regional's volunteers. "I felt privileged just to be a part of the evening."