Sunshine Foundation funds trips for kids living with medical conditions

Paityn Barnes and her family enjoyed dream trip to Florida

Submitted Photo Paityn Barnes, 7 1/2, of Minot, enjoyed meeting Minnie Mouse during a dream trip to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando theme parks earlier this month. The trip was funded by the Sunshine Foundation.

A 7-year-old Minot girl and her family enjoyed a dream trip to the Central Florida theme parks earlier this month thanks to the Sunshine Foundation, an organization that funds trips for children who have a chronic illness, a physical challenge or have been abused.

Paityn Barnes, the daughter of Timothy and Kelly Barnes, has cerebral palsy and autism.

“Oh, my goodness, she just loved every minute of it,” said her mom, Kelly. “… It was really great for us because usually the only time we travel is for medical reasons.”

Kelly Barnes said the trip was funded by a Fargo-Moorhead organization, Addie’s Pretty Princess Lemonade and Cupcake Stand. That group was started by a little girl who enjoyed a trip through the Sunshine Foundation and then decided to pay it forward by sponsoring trips for other kids. The Sunshine Foundation relies on donations by individuals and corporations to help fund its trips.

It helps fund dream trips for kids who might be turned away by other organizations that fund wishes only for kids who have a life-threatening or terminal illness.

Kelly Barnes found out about the organization through a support group on Facebook. More information about the Sunshine Foundation can be found at www.sunshinefoundation.org.

The Barnes family, which also includes Paityn’s older siblings, 13-year-old Jacob and 11-year-old Savannah, visited Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando theme parks during the trip from Jan. 31 to Feb. 5. They also stayed at the Sunshine Foundation Dream Village, a 22-acre resort with themed cottages that are equipped for children with special needs.

“Her favorite things were Space Mountain and meeting Minnie Mouse,” said Kelly Barnes.

Paityn also got to meet Gru from the “Despicable Me” franchise when they visited Universal Studios.

For Paityn and her siblings, this was their first time on an airplane and the first time they saw the ocean.

“We are so thankful,” said Kelly Barnes.

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