A nurse from Barnsley Hospital is helping sick children have the trip of a lifetime by volunteering as an escort on a special trip to Florida.
The trip runs through Dreamflight – a UK charity that takes children with a serious illness or disability, without their parents, on the holiday of a lifetime to Orlando. This year Children’s Respiratory Nurse Specialist, Zena Thomas, will be joining the team of helpers who care for the children during the holiday.
Once a year, 192 deserving children, aged between 8 and 14, from all over the UK, board a chartered Boeing 747 and head to Florida for 10 days of activities. Many children could not undertake such a trip without the support of the team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and non-medical volunteers who care for the children 24 hours a day.
Children are nominated to go on the trip by healthcare professionals. This year five children from the Barnsley area will be taking the trip of their lifetime when the flight leaves for Florida on October 15.
One of those children is 10 year old Michael Smith from Barnsley. Michael suffers from severe asthma, eczema and a number of food allergies and has to come to hospital every two weeks for injections.
“I’m really excited for the trip, I am looking forward to going on all the rides, even the big ones. I can’t wait to meet Micky Mouse and friends too, I have even wrote a song about it!”
“Our team nominates deserving children every year and most have been selected. Dreamflight gives children like Michael who have long term health conditions a break from hospital trips and a chance to have a holiday of a lifetime. I am thrilled to be asked to be part of our region’s group again this year and am looking forward to seeing the children’s faces when they swim with dolphins and ride the rollercoasters.
“Dreamflight is an amazing organisation, not only do they give the children a fantastic opportunity but it also gives their parents time to themselves or other family members that they may not normally get when caring for an ill child.”
Each escort has two children in their care throughout the trip and once in America they also have support from a team based in Florida.
The Dreamflight plane, which is chartered by British Airways (BA), is specially adapted with the equipment needed to treat the health complications of the children. The BA crew on the flight are also specially trained to help with the children throughout the whole trip.
For more information about Dreamflight, including how you can donate, please visit www.dreamflight.org/PRD.