VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Make-A-Wish Foundation found an “angel” on Thursday to save the Olympic dream vacations of 11 terminally ill children who were left without rooms when the cruise ship that was to provide accommodation canceled its Vancouver plans and left them high and dry.
The plight of the stranded children made headlines around the world, triggering a flood of offers of help, including one from Jet Set Sports, which stepped up to provide downtown accommodation.
“We are fortunate to be in a position to help them out,” said Mark Lewis the president of New Jersey-based Jet Set, which has ticketing rights for the Vancouver Winter Games in the United States and several other countries
“The owner of our company, Sead Dizdarevic, was reading the newspaper and saw the story.”
With thousands of spectators, media and other Olympic visitors descending on Vancouver for the Games hotel rooms in the Pacific coast city are hard to come by.
“We reached out to (Games organizers) and Make-A-Wish, got the details of what the needs were and have been working hard ever since to make sure we could fulfill them at no cost to the families or the organization,” Lewis said.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with serious medical conditions, was left scrambling to find alternative accommodation on Wednesday after the 1,108-room luxury liner Norwegian Star canceled plans to dock in Vancouver for the February 12-28 Winter Games, due to a lack of bookings.
The 11 children and their families, from across Canada, the United States and Australia, were among hundreds of tourists left scrambling for accommodation when the ship, chartered by Edmonton, Alberta-based Newwest Special Projects LP, made the cancellation announcement late Tuesday.
“We wanted to share the amazing news that an ‘angel’ came forward,” Make-A-Wish said in a statement.
It’s not the first time the travel company has come forward to play the role of angel.
At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Jet Set flew 100 Chinese children from the earthquake-hit Sichuan region to Beijing to watch the Games. The company said it also donated 100,000 tickets to schools at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
While the foundation has secured accommodation needed for the kids, the search goes on for rooms for the hundreds of other Olympic tourists who were left stranded by the cruise ship’s cancellation.
Editing by Rob Wilson