NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (FOX 11) - Kids fighting terminal illnesses got a dream day at the beach. A non-profit organization took them out of the hospital to go surfing at the Newport Beach Pier.
It was the 9th annual Miracles for Kids summer camp and it encouraged critically-ill children and their families to enjoy a surf, paddle out and care-free day at the beach.
Tom Swanecamp started the surf camp to give kids battling life-threatening diseases and their families freedom from hospital rooms, tests and chemotherapy, and let them just be children.
Miracles for Kids financially supports 300 families a year. “They’re at, near or below the national poverty level, so to get to a beach is something that some of them are doing for the first time in their lives,” says Swanecamp. “Some of them don’t have bathing suits or the resources to get to the beach.”
Volunteers from Waves of Impact provide that and so much more. The kids got to build sand castles, just play in the sand, boogie board and surf. “It’s like you’re on a cloud but it’s just like you’re riding it,” exclaims AJ Iredell who proudly adds he’s seven and three-quarters years old.
13-year-old Julio Godoy has a rare blood disorder called Aplastic Anaemia, which in his case is treatable but not curable. “It breaks my heart sometimes to see what he has to go through,” says Julio’s mom Maria while watching him catch waves. “But that big smile on his face out there makes it all worthwhile.”
“It means a lot because it takes away all the stuff I have in my mind going on outside of surfing and I go back to surfing and I don’t think about it,” says Julio.
His four-year-old sister, playing on the beach, was a perfect match to help him. “I gave my bone marrow to my brother because I love him,” little Gloria tells FOX 11.
12-year-old Alex Hays is fighting a similar autoimmune disease. “We have gotten much more time with him than they anticipated,” says his mom, Deanna Wright. “We are grateful for each and every day and Miracles has helped make those days even better.” Wright says a homeless shelter turned away her and Alex because he was so medically fragile. Miracles for Kids helped her get an education and save for a condo they now live in. “I hope that we can inspire other people to know their potential, even when they’re walking a difficult road,” she says, holding onto her son.
Miracles for Kids also allows parents to breathe while volunteers take their kids surfing. And for any kid, especially those fighting for each day, it’s hard to beat a summer day at the beach. “It means a lot,” says Julio, as he comes in from catching his last wave of the day. “I don’t know how to explain it, but it means a lot.”
Miracles for Kids is one of the only organizations on the West Coast that helps families with critically-ill children through hardships like bankruptcy, depression, hunger and homelessness, so they can focus on fighting for their kids’ lives. If you would like to donate, you can go to www.MIraclesForKids.org.