Bringing dreams to life

July 31, 2014

Dreams Take Flight Edmonton


Edmonton physician Dr. Douglas M. McCarty helps medically fragile children forget their struggles during whirlwind visits to the Magic Kingdom, with the help of Dreams Take Flight.

Most of the time it’s just too much excitement...Some of them say that it’s the best day of their life and you can see it in their faces.


Watch this short video about the 2012 Edmonton trip.

A trip to Disneyland is at the top of the wish list for most children. Unfortunately, for kids living with medical, social, emotional or physical challenges, traveling is often out of reach. That’s where organizations like Dreams Take Flight can help.

For more than 20 years, the national non-profit organization run by Air Canada volunteers has been helping children aged seven to12 enjoy a one-day trip-of-a-lifetime to the Magic Kingdom.

Dr. Douglas M. McCarty, an Edmonton family physician, has volunteered with the organization for the past 10 years and lends his time both before and during the trip.

“We start preparing well in advance,” notes Dr. McCarty. “We’ll interface with the Stollery or the Cross Cancer Institute and meet with the families two weeks before the trip to answer questions.”

For the past few years, Dr. Robert T.M. Carter, another physician at the Gateway Medical Clinic, has accompanied him, and Dr. McCarty’s wife – a registered nurse – has also volunteered her time.

Once the kids are in Disneyland, Dr. McCarty “floats” around the park addressing any issues that may arise and helping kids at the infirmary when needed.

“Most of the time it’s just too much excitement,” he explains. That excitement is also evident in the reactions from the kids. “Some of them say that it’s the best day of their life and you can see it in their faces.”

Although it’s been an amazing experience, Dr. McCarty is preparing to pass the torch.

“I’m getting old,” he laughs. “And it’s getting harder to be at the airport for 3 a.m. and not get back until 1:30 or 2 a.m. the next day.”

Still, he’s grateful for the opportunity to have been part of something so important. “I really believe as a physician everyone should be involved in something and this has been a great way to give back.”

More about this initiative

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.