Thursday, October 13, 2011

Disney: The Final Word

It would be unfair not to share the amazing things the Grin Kids staff had planned for us. If you plan to apply for this program and want to be surprised, do not read this post. It will be a spoiler.

First, we pull into the airport departure section and a Grin Kid volunteer (just a good person who wants to help out) carries our bags. This means that neither Ryan nor I touched a bag once we got out of the minivan. We were able to focus on the 3 boys and getting checked in. Grin Kids supplied luggage tags for us, especially marked so they would make it directly to our hotel room.

After security, which they did try to make it as easy as possible for everyone, we went to the concourse where we were welcomed by Police Officers, Santa Claus, Rufus from the Charlotte BobCats, Sir Purr from the Carolina Panthers and many other local and national mascots. Each one had goody bags to give out to every child.

Dancers performed in the middle of the concourse, music played and time flew by and before I knew it, we were ready to get onto the chartered jet, decorated with the Carolina Panthers logo. Every seat contained a snack bag. (I add this so you can start the food count.)

Our sendoff was marked by the airport fire department making a rainbow arch with their hoses spraying water over the plane. Once we were in the air, we were given lunch and drinks. Then they came around with a fruit basket. Then a candy basket. Then ice cream sandwiches for all. It was a kid's dream flight.

Once we landed, we were able to get right into the special coach buses without entering the airport. Four motorcycle officers from the Sheriff's department gave us an almost non-stop ride to the Disney resort, stopping traffic, lights and anything else that got in our way.

At the hotel, we were given packets and keys and told our luggage would arrive shortly. And this was only the first 5 hours of this vacation.

Each day the staff had something special for us planned. Without giving every detail, here are a few of the special things planned just for our group - we met The Lion King cast, had premier seating at the Fireworks show in Epcot, and met and got autographs from Mickey, Minnie and Goofy.

Each evening when we returned to the hotel, one bed would be completely full of stuff - t-shirts, gifts, toys, food and even bags to hold the loot.

The Grin Kids website describes this trip as a "once in a lifetime vacation" and they are accurate in saying so. The connections the staff have made over the last twelve years to build this program and experience are so deep. It is obvious from the staff at US Airways to the people who welcomed us home in the airport and everyone in between, that the Grin Kids mission is one they fully support. They make everything as easy as possible for families traveling with a child with special needs and then add lots of sugar with many many cherries on top. It was their goal to make us all feel truly special, and I think we would all agree that they succeeded.

Resources & Application Information:

Barb McIntyre, the woman behind Ace & TJ's Grin Kids

1 comment:

  1. I am applying for Olivia next year. So glad you were picked and so estatic it was wonderful!!!


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