CEDAR FALLS — Sixteen Cedar Valley children and their families will leave Sunday for a trip to meet Mickey Mouse at Disney World.

The event marks the 18th annual trip for the Magical Mix Kids, a local nonprofit charity. Over the past 18 years, the organization has provided the all-expenses paid trip to 230 area children who suffer from a chronic or terminal illness.

“We are so fortunate to have a very generous Cedar Valley that believes these kids deserve to have their dream come true and visit Disney World,” said Jim Coloff, director of Magical Mix Kids.

Coloff will broadcast reports from the trip on local radio station, 93.5 The Mix. The station is the main sponsor of the group and started the 501-C3 charity in 1999.

The group raises money with several fundraisers throughout the year.

The next event is the Snowflake Express, a Christmas-themed train ride leaving from downtown Waterloo on Dec. 2. Tickets go on sale Nov. 4. Another big event is the charity auction presented by REMAX Home Group to benefit the Magical Mix Kids, held annually on the last Friday in January.

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“We are very proud of the fact that we have very few expenses, other than the trip,” said Coloff. “We pay no rent, no utilities and have no paid staff. Aside from some minor costs to organize events, 100 percent of the money raised goes to take the kids to Disney World.”

The group pays for not just the children, but also for their parents and siblings. That includes the airline transportation, busing, hotel accommodations, Disney park tickets, meals and a few souvenirs. They provide a doctor and nurse who travel with the group in case of any medical emergencies.

Dr. Kim Neumann, board member of Magical Mix Kids, has been on the trip for 11 years and serves on the medical staff to care for the children while they travel. “Many of these families have never traveled before, due to the health concerns for their child. We try to give them the peace of mind knowing we are there to help if a problem arises,” said Newman.

Due to the severity of their health situation, special precautions are taken by the charity to ensure for the safety of the participants. The children must be between the ages of 5 and 18, and are chosen based on their health condition and families’ financial situation.

The group will leave Sunday at 11 a.m. from the Falls Aquatic Center parking lot in Cedar Falls. A bus will transport the group to the Des Moines Airport for the flight to Orlando. They will return Oct. 20.

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