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20th Dec 2013
Jess makes dreams come true in Florida /
Jess makes dreams come true in Florida
Our solutions designer Jess Adams recently volunteered on the Destination Dreams trip to Florida, held by Stoke-on-Trent-based charity Caudwell Children. Destination Dreams is an organised holiday to Disney World for children fighting life threatening illnesses. Here, Jess writes about why she decided to become a volunteer and tells us about her time helping out during the visit.

I’ve been volunteering for Caudwell Children for nearly a year now - I’d heard about the amazing things that the charity does not only for the children it supports but also for their families, so I wanted to get involved and do small things to make a big difference to others’ lives.
 
When I was told about the Destination Dreams trip to Florida I knew that I had to apply – it would be the opportunity of a lifetime, I’d be able to really make a difference and give something back. There were 150 of us on the trip in total, including 25 families, 35 volunteers, eight medics and Caudwell staff. I was really looking forward to meeting new people on the trip and to getting to know the families and my fellow volunteers.

 

I couldn’t wait to make these children laugh and smile and help to create everlasting memories for them and their families. Being able to do the smallest thing like pushing a wheelchair so that mum and dad could hold hands was what I was looking forward to – being able to help. As a volunteer, I was there to assist families in whatever way possible to make sure they had a fantastic time.
 
The trip is so important because it enables families who are used to being in and out of hospital and living with worry every day to have time as a family, which is something most people take for granted. Some of the families who go on the trip each year don't even have the opportunity to leave their town let alone have a holiday as a family, as it can seem very daunting with wheelchairs and medical equipment. Destination Dreams could be their only chance to have a holiday and time together as a family without the usual stresses and strains.

 
The holiday offers an opportunity for people to build friendships with other families in similar situations and create lifetime bonds with them and the volunteers because of their shared experience. The best thing about the trip was seeing how relaxed the families became over the week. I didn’t like having to leave the families at the airport when we got back to the UK – in fact, I shed a few tears!
 
The charity changes not only the children’s lives but also the lives of their families. I would urge anyone considering volunteering for Caudwell Children to go ahead and just do it!

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