The chartered plane will depart from Newark, NJ for San Francisco, CA on August 16.
There are no other organizations that take a chartered plane of 500 people (with a ratio of three supervisors to every chronically ill camper) for a nine day adventure with a full cadre of medical volunteers. In many cases, this is the first time the campers will have traveled without their families.
Dr. Stuart Ditchek, medical director and co-founder of Kids of Courage stated, "This is the largest group that we have ever traveled with and many are the sickest and most disabled kids we serve. The medical logistics of traveling with 37 individuals who need in-flight oxygen and 113 with other serious medical needs is a huge responsibility.
"Our team is by far the most proficient in the world in providing medically supervised travel.” Dr. Ditchek added, “For three years we have taken thousands of children on travels that help them feel lightened from their illness at least for a little while.”
The campers this year include a young man with muscular dystrophy who requires an assistive portable ventilator breathing device, a teenager with spina bifida and lower extremity paralysis, a young adult with cerebral palsy, a teenager with acute leukemia, a young lady with a birth defect that left her without arms, and a ventilator dependent quadriplegic.
Planning and coordination for this trip requires months, the input of many medical specialists and a team of dedicated volunteers. On the plane, the volunteers must be prepared to combat a slew of medical emergencies and procedures, such as dangerous heart conditions and the administering of intravenous medications.
The plane is equipped and stocked with oxygen concentrators, feeding pumps, suction machines, monitoring equipment, a multitude of medications, full resuscitation equipment including drug bags, intubation kits and a defibrillator.
Kids of Courage provides adventure and travel for seriously and terminally ill campers, disabled individuals, as well as respite for their parents and caregivers. The day/weeklong trips and events throughout the year are free of charge to the campers.
When in San Francisco, the Kids of Courage week-long adventure will feature a trip to Six Flags Great Adventure, a day at Raging Water, California’s largest water park, a visit to Alcatraz, a tour of the Jelly Belly candy factory, visiting the Golden Gate Bridge and a tour of the NASA center.
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