Magical Journey from 2011

This is not about an average trip to Disney World. It’s going to require around 36 staffers, including two physicians and an FBI agent, and will probably cost about $170,000.

“We are quite the spectacle,” one staff attendee admits, but it’s worth all of the trouble, she adds, just to see the smile on a few children’s faces.

The “spectacle” is arranged by Exceptional Care for Children,  Delaware’s only pediatric skilled-nursing facility. With 42 beds, the facility provides long-term and end-of-life care for kids ranging in age from infant up to 21 years, all of whom depend on medical technology to survive.

For months now, they’ve been planning to take eight of the children to Disney in Orlando next year, hoping to give them a slice of sunshine in their frequently trying lives. This will actually be the fourth such trip, dating back to 2011, as part of its “Exceptional Care for Children Magical Journey” program. It recently was revealed as the American Health Care Association’s 2018 Not-for-Profit Program of the Year.

“These are children who will probably never have this opportunity in their lifetime, if we didn’t do it for them,” Annette Moore, administrator of ECC, told McKnight’s. “It’s the happiest place on earth, and we want these kids to experience that, no matter what their journey is in life. This is an effort that my staff works very hard at because we want to give them something that any child deserves.”

The genesis of the program dates back several years to when the skilled care facility’s board members started kicking around the idea of taking residents to Disney. After chewing over possible scenarios and the risks involved, ECC dove into the idea in 2011, using $100,000 to take eight children and about 42 staffers on that first “Magical Journey.”

They’ve kept the tradition going every other year since, with a brief break in 2017. They plan to relaunch next year with another eight children, spending six days and seven nights in a 12-bed villa. Though it may seem extraordinary to an outsider, Moore said each is just another day for the kids, and that’s just how she wants it.

“We get to witness miracles every single day, and to be able to bring them to Walt Disney World, they don’t think it’s anything big. They don’t understand the capacity of what it takes to get them there, and that’s the most satisfying to me as the administrator, and to this organization. It’s just another day.”

Made possible by some of the most exceptional caregivers around.