Over the last 33 years the magnificent Patricia Pearce MBE and her charity, Dreamflight, has taken thousands of seriously ill and disabled children to Florida.
Every child that is nominated/selected to go on Dreamflight is spending every day of their life managing an illness or disability. For 10 days, despite being surrounded by hundreds of children who are also unwell or disabled, nobody is! Sounds like a bit of an oxymoron I know but just try and picture it. These children are not only joined by other children in the same boat as them but also by amazing medical staff to help make sure medication is taken on time, physio exercises are done etc. So if your escort is a medical professional thinking about all these things then you don't need to. For 10 days you can focus on being a child who is joined by other children all there for one reason - to enjoy every second of every day doing things you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to.
Oh and something I haven't mentioned yet ... There's no parents or guardians. Now considering there are some young children on this trip you might be thinking oh my! But like I have already mentioned these VIC's are surrounded by some of the countries best nurse, doctors, physios and more. They couldn't be in better hands!
It wasn't actually until this year that I understood how it must be allowing your child to go with Dreamflight. Like I have mentioned 10 years ago I went on the trip so I know exactly what it's like to be a VIC because I was one! And I cannot thank Dreamflight enough for what it gave me and I don't just mean physically taking me to Florida but for the personality traits I gained in the process. I came home more confident, more independent and more motivated than I ever thought was possible. I would go as far as to credit the trip and my group (The Shrekkies) for helping me get to where I am today!
But anyway back to my experience of this years trip! Myself and y boyfriend Dom were invited along to last years departure party after the charity, and my previous group leader, had heard about my collaboration with ASOS and all the other interesting things I had been up to since 2009. It was such an honour to be there last year. It was so overwhelming being back involved with the charity but this time to help contribute to other children's experiences before they boarded the plane to Orlando. They had already said about us returning for the departure party this year which of course straight away we said yes. But earlier on this year whilst at last years Shrekkies reunion, where we got to watch the video from their trip, I had a bit of a eureka moment.
Let me just reiterate that every child that gets on that plane is thoroughly deserving of their seat but for me, with Maddie, I know WHY she was deserving and that made it all the more special for me. Then there is the cherry on the cake...knowing she was going because I nominated her! No wonder I cried right?!
So yeah! If you haven't heard of Dreamflight before I hope this gives you a slight insight! Not only does Pat, her charity and all the amazing group leaders/escorts take these VIC's to all the best theme parks in Orlando, Florida. They also bring back children who smiler that little bit bigger, laugh that little bit louder and most importantly have learnt how to jump life's cruel hurdles that little bit higher! They return with more confidence, independence and motivation than you can imagine.
Last year myself and Dom (my boyfriend) were invited up to the Dreamflight departure party at the hotel they stay at near Heathrow before boarding the plane to the states. It was a beautiful experience and we are honoured to be invited back again this year.
So on the Wednesday before getting the Eurostar to Paris we surprised Maddie, until a couple of days before we managed to keep it a secret from her. Seeing how excited she was about going there I was even more hyped to tell her about her trip to Florida which we told her that Saturday! I must say though, I think I have set the bar pretty high for surprises next year haven't I!
I wanted to share these beautiful memories with you so you can see for yourself just how special Maddie is and just how deserving of this she is!
When my blog went up on the Motivation about being their new Ambassador the last paragraph said ... Look out for her first challenge when she takes on the Superhero Tri challenge later this year .. Well it's official; I am doing the Superhero Tri! And so are 8 of my family/friends.
I put up this vlog the other day and within half an hour I had 3 teams doing it!
Some of the statistics I mention in that video need to be changed and I am so happy to see that I am not the only one who wants to do that.
Between the 3 teams our fundraising target is £1,500 which will go directly towards helping people all over the world to have a better life.
My training for the event at Dorney Lake, Windsor on 18th August starts tomorrow. I will be cycling 6K (3.7 ish miles) with a hand bike. Something I have never done before and will be a real challenge for me. Yes the event will be fun but I didn't want it to be easy for me either with my condition being Muscular Dystrophy.
The people doing the event with me are from all works of my life from my brother and father to my best friend and boyfriend to people who I have only recently been able to call friends. That's because although they can all walk, run, swim, cycling perfectly well they have listened to what I have said about what this could mean for those who can't and they want to help me make a difference.
We can want to make a different all we like but we need your help to do that. Please donate to the cause and help us make a genuine difference to the 70 million people around the world who don't have a wheelchair and the 80% of disabled people who live in developing countries who live in poverty and most importantly, I think, the 90% of disabled children living in those countries who can't get to school. Help us get them there?
“Let’s start by covering the basics.
The ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of me!
Well, I’m Chloe Ball-Hopkins, and the ‘what’ (I suppose) is that I am a Para-Athlete.
I was training for the Rio Paralympics in archery until an injury forced me to put a temporary hold on my dreams, and take a bit of a break from sport, in that capacity anyway. I have been busy working at the BBC in Bristol as a Sports Producer and Reporter for Radio Bristol and occasionally appearing on Points West too. I’ve also just been asked to sit on a news panel by the BBC tasked with looking at how they can target “youth” audiences!
But I think the ‘what’ that is relevant here is that I am a now an ‘Ambassador’ for Motivation.
I think the most important answer though is why I want to be an Ambassador and that’s pretty simple, and may sound cliché, but it’s because I want to make a difference.
I may have been born with a number of medical conditions that have made life hard sometimes, but I am very aware of the fact that actually I am so lucky compared to so many. Just take a second to really read these statistics …
The right to an education is something that is still being fought for in some countries but that isn't why many disabled children can’t get to school; it’s because they don't have the equipment they need to physically get them there.
I was doing a little maths the other day after looking at the cost of a Motivation wheelchair and I realised that the cost of my chair would cover the cost of over 25 wheelchairs provided by the charity.
I want to try and use my gratitude of the support I was shown to try and help do the same for at least some of the 70 million people in the world who need chairs just like I did several years ago.
I wish I could personally fix that statistic, but sadly I’m not in a position to be able to, but during my time as a Motivation Ambassador I am adamant to help make a positive impact on lowering that number.
I am also looking to help with the sports element of the Charity too. It was back in 2012 that I first tried Motivation’s sports wheelchairs - and the photo on Motivation’s website of wheelchair tennis and of the racing chair in the brochure you can download from the Motivation website is of me!
I want to do more than just be in the pictures now though. I hope to help develop access to sport for people as far away as some of the poorest parts of the world to right here on my doorstep in Bristol.
We are all guilty in life of complaining about the small things. Whether it’s about the weather, how long it takes for your food to arrive at a restaurant, or the fact that you need new tyres on your wheelchair. Everybody moans, but I can honestly say hand on heart that I have never really been a complainer; but I moan even less now that I have been looking into just how challenging life can be for some people around the world.
I want to see more people happy and included, whether that is helping a child get to school or giving someone a wheelchair they are in desperate need of. I want to see the smile on their face when they realise they have the potential to do more.
There is a quote I particularly like: ‘making one person smile can change the world, maybe not the whole world, but their world’
So what do you say? Are you ready to work with me to change a whole lot of worlds?”
You can catch up with Chloe by following her on Twitter and we hope to bring you updates through regular blogs on the Motivation website. Look out for her first challenge when she takes on the Superhero Triathlon challenge later this year! @chloe_ballhopzy