By Don Pierson, Co-founder, Conquer The Day Foundation
Conquer The Day Foundation is pleased to announce our second Wish Adventure has been made possible by you, our generous donors, corporate sponsors, and countless volunteers. Randy, a young 19 year-old cancer patient battling acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) at the UVM Medical Center, returned with all smiles from his unbelievable trip to Orlando, Florida.
I caught up with Randy after a follow-up chemotherapy appointment at the Medical Center.
“I was so excited when Dr. Bradeen told me she might know of an organization who could help me,” smiled Randy. “ I was kind of down in the dumps because of my leukemia and the onset of pancreatitis; this trip to Disney and Universal Studios was awesome! Let me give you a hug.”
I smiled back and we did a big bear hug!
Flights of Passage
Just a couple of weeks before, with his older sister, Anqelique, to help with the trip, Randy’s adventure started from Hardwick, Vermont. Kerri Merone, from Milne Travel, and I had planned to meet the siblings at the Burlington airport, to explain ticketing and TSA boarding requirements. Randy and Angelique had already figured out how to get through the boarding process, even though they weren’t seasoned travelers!
Kerri and I smiled at each other and collectively echoed, “They’ll be OK. If they got through all the TSA stuff by themselves, they are resourceful and probably can handle anything else on the trip.”
After the trip, Angelique texted me: “One of the special moments we had is when we tried a virtual reality ride for the first time. We went on Avatar Flight of Passage and you really felt like you were riding a banshee. Randy had a lot of fun telling me how ridiculous I looked riding it. It was our very first ride at Disney.”
I couldn’t help but smile and be thankful for all the donations, time, and help for Conquer The Day to enable someone to temporarily forget the constraining cancer treatments and replace them with the wide-eyed memories of a first airline flight and the excitement of a thrilling 3-D Disney ride!
Randy starting his Wish Adventure.
Randy’s smiles played back warm memories for me, too. Our family was able to take our son, Stefan, to Disney World and Universal Studios to forget the affects of his cancer treatments. It reminded me the genesis of the Conquer The Day Foundation and underscored what our mission is all about.
Dr. Seuss, instead of Dr. Bradeen
I texted the pair from time-to-time to check in during this wish adventure to see what fun they were having.
Angelique texted back: “OK. The people at Disney are super friendly which made the wait times a lot better. Also, just hanging out with my brother and having fun was nice because isn’t something we get to do very often.”
Randy hanging out at Disney.
After the trip, Randy recounted a Universal Studios memory; He told me that his sister was surprised that he wanted to spend time in the Dr. Seuss themed “Cat in the HatTM” area. “You’re acting like a child,” she said to him. “ I never knew that about you.” Randy told me that he really enjoyed the Cat in the Hat books as a child. “After the cancer diagnosis, it felt OK to act a bit childish. I wanted a Cat in the Hat top hat, anyway,” Randy explained.
Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
– Dr. Seuss
I think a Dr. Seuss quote is appropriate: “ Today you are YOU, that is TRUER than true. There is NO ONE alive who is YOUER than YOU!”
Thank you from Conquer The Day Foundation to all you YOUERs who are DONORS! “Youer” the best!
After a few days, Randy and Angelique did not return any of my texts.
Not being a “millennial”, I feared I must be doing something inappropriate on social media! It turned out that Randy and Angelique temporarily misplaced their cell phone in Disney. Whew, they really weren’t avoiding me!
Meanwhile, here were the fun things they were up to:
- Inverted rides on Rockin’ Roller Coaster – Randy’s docs said don’t get upside down. Whoops!
- Chowing down on deep fried churros – watch those carbs said the docs. Well done, Randy!
- Typhoon Lagoon wave pool – the docs said try to avoid sunburn. Whoops!
Randy recounted a funny incident with a happy ending at the Typhoon Lagoon wave pool at Disney.
“ Body surfing was so fun, exclaimed Randy. “The wave generator made huge waves and one wave knocked my sister’s glasses off her head. We searched for a while, with no luck. Then I felt something! My toes found her glasses and saved the day!”
Disney also found their cell phone and sent it back to them!
I asked Randy what was his favorite, most anticipated thing about his wish adventure.
“The Simpsons!” Randy replied immediately, and with wild excitement. “Don’t have a cow, Man!” I replied. (Actually I didn’t say it, well nobody heard me say it…)
Randy went on to explain, “Angelique and I researched it on the Universal Studios website. When we got to Universal, Springfield was our top priority. We wanted to make sure to go there. We grew up watching the Simpsons. We had a blast going through it and eating at the themed restaurants.”
A Universal Thumps up
When the adventurers returned to Vermont, Angelique sent me some pictures from the trip, which captured some of their notable memories. I noticed a common theme that Randy purposefully almost always gave the “thumps up” gesture, smiling, and seemingly indicating his approval.
Angelique and Randy souvenier shopping.
Conquer The Day Foundation wishes to pass on that “thumbs up” in appreciation to the tireless and countless hours, dedication, and donations from our volunteers and sponsors to make wish adventures and special memories, like Randy’s and Angelique’s possible. Thank you for helping us support our mission to help young adults battling cancer.
Randy explained to me he is looking forward to get back into life after all his cancer treatments, return to his job, and move forward. He smiled and told me how great this trip was as a transition back.
I got another bear hug, too!
Thumbs up to an awesome trip and to all who made it possible!
To our generous donors, volunteers, and sponsors:
As you know, #GivingTuesday” jump starts the charitable season when many of us are thinking about helping others, yearly charitable contributions, and our own, personal holiday giving.
Would you please consider donating a portion of your giving to Conquer The Day Foundation?
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is help young adults battling cancer.