Jul 01

Dreams Come True At The Zoo

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is for everyone, but unfortunately there are some children who aren’t able to visit because of a disability or medical condition.

On Friday, May 20, we were pleased to host many of these children who are being treated in the Omaha area, and their families, to Dream Night at the Zoo.

Now in its fifth year, Dream Night is an opportunity for children who are immuno-compromised and should not be exposed to large crowds; children who need special care that limits their ability to leave the home or a treatment facility; and children who have a disability or medical condition that makes it difficult for them to get out and about. For one magical night, they can forget about their cares and treatment, and just be kids enjoying the zoo with their families.

"It's one of the few times many of these families can be out and not have people staring at them,” says Donna Cook, vice president at Lockton Companies, a Kansas City-based firm with offices in Omaha that has generously sponsored the event for the past three years. “Normally people might be looking at the medical devices or the wheelchair, but here no one cares.”

In fact, Cook says, she was delighted when, this year, some of the children in wheelchairs got a little extra attention from one of the young giraffes. “We were up above, at eye level with the giraffes, and one of them kept coming over to investigate the wheelchairs. So the kids got to touch her.”

Animal encounters are just par for the course at Dream Night, where the kids have the zoo all to themselves and can explore at their own pace. Families are also treated to a backstage tour of the aquarium, a free dinner and favorite zoo treats like popcorn and cotton candy, face painting, games and a train ride.

Cook says that many of Lockton associates from the Omaha office were there to assist the zoo staff with the fun. “Once someone has been a part of helping out at Dream Night, they want to come back year after year. It’s a blessing to be involved.”

For more information about how you can get involved with sponsorship opportunities through the Omaha Zoo Foundation, please contact Kelsie Sis-Davis via email: kelsie@omahazoofoundation.org or phone: 402-738-2073.