Dream Night at Rolling Hills Zoo: Brings Joy to Children with Special Needs

Dream Night at Rolling Hills Zoo: Brings Joy to Children with Special Needs

Rolling Hills Zoo transformed into a haven of dreams for children with chronic or terminal illnesses and disabilities during this year’s special Dream Night held September 23. This enchanting evening was made possible through the generous support of Salina Regional Health Foundation’s CHIP grant and the McCune Foundation.

As the sun began to set over the picturesque landscapes of Rolling Hills Zoo, children and their parents were welcomed by a dedicated team of Dream Night volunteers. Each child received a special Rolling Hills Zoo keepsake bag, complete with a plush animal, water bottle, sunglasses and a variety of delightful surprises. After savoring a heartwarming supper at the Overlook Restaurant, the young VIP guests embarked on an unforgettable journey through the zoo.

This year's Dream Night at Rolling Hills Zoo was graced by the presence of sixty five remarkable children and their parents. The success of this event was made possible by the unwavering support of Independent Connection and the devoted team at Rolling Hills Zoo.

Amidst the captivating animal exhibits, the children reveled in live animal encounters, explored the zoo's bio-fact touch carts, and marveled at the wonders of the Wildlife Museum. Smiles and laughter echoed throughout the evening as the children posed for photos with the zoo's beloved mascots, George the Giraffe, Betty the Bat, and Rowdy Rhino. The zoo's trams toured our young guests around the park, ensuring that they could enjoy every moment of this magical experience.

VIP children who were unable to attend Dream Night received a special Golden Ticket which granted them and two parents or guardians free admission to the zoo. Additionally, they were presented with their VIP keepsake bag and a $20 gift card that could be redeemed at the Overlook Restaurant or Elephant’s Trunk Gift Shop. This gesture allowed another nine VIP children to enjoy this special time set aside just for them.

The heartwarming tradition of Dream Night at the Zoo has a rich history beginning in 1996 at the Rotterdam Zoo. That year, children from the Sophia Children’s Hospital, especially cancer patients, were treated to a memorable evening. Over the years, this tradition has continued to grow, expanding the event to include more children and various hospitals and institutions.

In 2007, Rolling Hills Zoo joined this heartwarming initiative as an official partner, dedicating a special night exclusively to children with terminal or chronic illnesses and disabilities, along with their parents. Each year the Zoo is committed to providing an environment where children facing unique mental and physical health challenges can feel at ease and enjoy the company of animals while engaging in special activities at their own pace, all in a safe and enjoyable setting.

Rolling Hills Zoo, the Salina Regional Health Foundation, and the McCune Foundation are honored to have the opportunity to bring joy and unforgettable memories to these extraordinary children and their families through Dream Night at the Zoo. They look forward to continuing this tradition of love, care, and support in the years to come.

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