Jacob Ocampo has had three heart opertions and is severely autistic. Now his family want to give him a holiday. Catherine Scott reports.
The mother of a 10-year-old boy from Stanley, in Wakefield,is appealing to her local community to support the charity that wants to treat her family to a dream holiday to Disney World, in Florida, next month.
Jacob Ocampo, who has congenital heart disease, global development delay and autism, is also non-verbal, has been seriously-ill from birth and spends a lot of time in hospital.
He has had open heart surgery on three occasions already in his short life and following an operation two years ago he spent more than a month in hospital.
To get some much needed respite from his condition his mother, Jennifer, decided to apply for a place for her son, a pupil at Kingsland Special School in Wakefield, on Caudwell Children’s annual Destination Dreams holiday to Disney World, in Florida.
The charity created Destination Dreams in 2007, to give 25 children, with life threatening conditions, the opportunity to experience a ‘Dream’ holiday to Disney World.
Jennifer says that she was delighted to learn that Jacob had been offered a place on the trip.
However, the race is now on to raise the necessary funds to cover the cost of the holiday.
“I was thrilled to learn that we have been selected for the dream trip, I simply couldn’t believe it,” explains Jennifer.
“The families are really well looked after as the charity provide a dedicated team of paediatric doctors and nurses, who are available 24/7, to look after the children should they become ill.
“They also take along over 40 volunteers to assist families around the theme parks.”
But because of the associated costs of taking very poorly children overseas the charity has to pay, on average, £12,000 per family.
“However, with the current economic climate there’s always the risk that they won’t be able to raise enough money by the time the holiday comes around,” says mum of two Jennifer.
“Therefore, all the families on the trip have decided to appeal to their local communities to ensure that we get on that plane to Florida in December.”
Jennifer says that the holiday will provide Jacob with a welcome break from hospital and doctors’ appointments, but will also benfit the entire family.
“Although Jacob is unable to tell us how he feels we can see from his facial expressions that he loves everything Disney,” says his mum.
“His little face lights up when he sees the Disney characters on his tablet, or on television, so we can’t wait for him to see them in real life.”
Jennifer says that the holiday is also important for the rest of the family, and believes that Jacob’s 14-year-old sister Jenelle, will particularly enjoy it as she’s had to miss out on many things to support her brother.
“She has to go to all the medical appointments with us as there is nobody else to look after her,” explains Jennifer.
“And in 2016 she gave up her school summer holiday to spend a full month with Jacob in hospital, so the holiday will give them some fantastic quality time together.
“I can’t wait to see her being happy, like other children, so I hope the public support our fundraising campaign so that we can raise the money that we need to get to Florida.”
Trudi Beswick, chief executive of Caudwell Children, is urging the community to get behind the family’s appeal.
She said: “For many families caring for children with terminal or life-threatening conditions, the thought of leaving the protected environment of their own home, and their medical support, fills them with dread.
“By providing 24-hour professional medical provision and a team of volunteers, for the duration of the trip, Destination Dreams gives families the chance to create happy memories, often for the first time!
“Unfortunately, the level of assistance that the families need doesn’t come cheap.
“That’s why it’s vital that Jacob and the family get the fundraising support that they so desperately need and deserve.”
You can support Jacob through his Just Giving Page here: www.justgiving.com/holiday4jacob
You can also donate by texting: PEAL93 then the amount in pounds to 70070