Christopher Rolland

   The Rolland Family Wish Trip March 2017

We are so grateful to Benefits4Kids for sending us to Orlando on a wish trip that our family will never forget.   While we are able to take vacations as a family, we are always somewhat limited in the activities we can do by cost and the fact that our 16-year-old son Christopher has some special needs.  This trip was definitely the exception!

Our trip began with our flight to Orlando from St. Louis.  We usually drive whenever we go anywhere, so the flight itself was an adventure for both our boys.  There was no spending 2 days in the car this time......the boys were amazed that we were in Florida in only 2 hours.  We then picked up our amazing minivan complete with a DVD player....the boys both thought this was an amazing feature and no matter where we went, we always had a movie playing.  Our condo provided each of the boys with their own room, complete with a TV.

Our first day was spent at Discovery Cove.  There aren't enough words to describe how awesome this day was for us.  We loved meeting "our" dolphin Thelma and interacting with her, and the beautiful pictures we were able to buy thanks to the very generous spending money we were given will be treasured always.  Seeing our often-sullen Christopher smile and giggle whenever he touched Thelma was a priceless gift.  We even made a new friend in one of the employees, June, and have kept in touch with her since returning from our trip.  We look forward to meeting up with her on our future visits to Florida.

Our second day was spent at Sea World.  Our 10 year old, Joshua, was absolutely enthralled with learning all about the animals, and was especially interested in the rescue efforts that Sea World provides.  He asked all kinds of questions about job requirements and education......maybe we have a future marine biologist in the making!?!

Our family was split up on day 4.  My husband Barry and Christopher are avid fishermen, so of course this trip was a wonderful opportunity for some fishing.  They met up with an acquaintance of Barry's and went bass fishing at Stick Marsh 13.  Christopher caught the biggest fish of the day, and they even saw some alligators.  This was a great father/son day for them.   While they were fishing, Joshua and I spent the day at the beach enjoying some sunshine and water and enjoyed some together time ourselves.

On day 5, we played some miniature golf and then went to Busch Gardens.  Again, Joshua especially enjoyed seeing the animals.  Christopher was fascinated watching all the roller coasters, but we just couldn't coax him into riding any of them.

On day 6, we went on our scheduled private deep sea fishing trip for shark.  Unfortunately, this was the only rainy day we encountered, and it made the ocean a little rough.  But our guide Ronnie was awesome and patient, and totally understood the little bit of sea sickness that was going on.  The boys all caught a lot of fish, and although we did get some "bites," we were never able to catch a shark.

On day 7, the weather turned a lot cooler, so our trip to Aquatica had to be cancelled.  We decided to go see some sights in Orlando, and ended up at WonderWorks Museum.  The boys loved all the activities there, including the ropes course and laser tag.

Day 8 was our flight home.  Again, the boys were amazed at how fast we got home.  We will probably never get them in the car again for a driving vacation.

The generosity of activities and funds that were provided will not be forgotten by our family.  Being a parent is challenging, and when you have a child with special needs, it's a different kind of challenging.  It is so mind freeing to be able to go on a trip and not have to worry about money and be able to let your children do things that you would normally never be able to afford to do.

Our most sincere thanks,

Barry, Dana, Christopher, and Joshua Rolland