We're on a mission.

We want to improve the quality of life, mental health, and development of special needs children and their families.

The very demanding life of raising a special needs child takes its toll on parents and caregivers, and the special needs child’s own day-to-day routines can be very taxing on them. Special needs families often face what we call “burnout” where parents and caregivers just can’t give anymore (either through personal effort or financially), and special needs children sometimes just can’t continue learning and developing and need a break.

We all want a vacation to recharge to be able to tackle life’s challenges. Unfortunately, vacationing can be a guilt-ridden undertaking for a special needs family: there is only so much time and money and diverting either away from a child’s significant needs is a decision that can burden a family beyond what a typical family may face. It’s valuable time that the child could be spending in therapy, for instance. And it’s money that could be spent on treatments or therapies that aren’t covered by insurance (if the family has insurance). Special needs families should be able to take a break without all of the associated guilt that can diminish the benefits of a vacation.

Mission Statement: Enriching Escapes’ mission is to improve the quality of life, mental health, and development of special needs children and their families by making guilt-free opportunities to relax and recharge possible.

Enriching Escapes is all about embracing the truth that Kids are Kids!, regardless of the many things that make us all unique. Often times, we focus on what makes us different rather than what brings us together. Special needs kids still want to “just be a kid” sometimes; special needs families still want to spend time together; and those of us with little still want to provide our children with a lot.

It is our hope to make vacationing easier for families with children with disabilities by assisting with travel expenses, as well as by organizing trips that include therapists of various disciplines so that the special needs child isn’t missing out on important therapy time. These therapists and other support staff will also provide general familial support so that the entire family can enjoy a much needed “escape”. Enriching Escapes will provide financial assistance, up to the entire cost of a family’s “escape”, based on each family’s level of need. Enriching Escapes will not base any child’s or family’s selection for an “escape” on any factor that differentiates us (e.g., a family’s financial resources, race, religion, social status, citizenship, etc.). These “escapes” will be done in a group format, giving families the additional benefit of creating friendships and memories with families that encounter similar challenges in daily life.

Our “escapes” will be the vacation that we all deserve. Even if just for a short period of time, we can all “escape” and enjoy life with one another. You can join us on our mission by making a donation, nominating a family, or contributing your abilities, to help kids with different abilities just be kids!

wendi hoffer enriching escapes

Wendi Hoffer

Founder and Executive Director

Wendi Hoffer’s desire to help make vacations more of a reality for special needs families came about as the result of being a special needs mom herself. As the mother of three children, one of whom happens to have cerebral palsy, Wendi knows firsthand the challenges that special needs families face when contemplating a vacation, and she also knows the day-to-day stresses that build up making those vacations that seem so out of reach so crucially necessary.

Prior to becoming a mom, Wendi’s career was centered in analytics and offering solutions to clients based upon the findings of complex analyses. Identifying a problem and coming up with a solution comes naturally to Wendi and Enriching Escapes is where she has chosen to take that trait next. Additionally, Wendi’s love for travel makes her eager to make those experiences possible for others.

Amazing people doing amazing things.
Board of Directors

Laura Bess


Laura Hayes is a Physical Therapist with 8 years of experience working with pediatric patients at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. She volunteers with community groups such as Young Athletes and Special Olympics to positively impact the social lives of children with special needs. She also teaches pediatrics at Florida Southern College to pass along her passions to future professionals and is the principle investigator for IRB research to better the lives of future children. In her spare time, she enjoys ushering Broadway shows at the Straz Center with her mom, reading with her book club, and vacationing around the world with her fiancée. She looks forward to her role in stakeholder outreach to continue spreading the mission of Enriching Escapes and creating a supportive network for families. “Most people see what is, and never see what can be.” – Albert Einstein

Nicholas Hoffer


Nicholas Hoffer, Wendi’s husband and father to their three amazing children, has spent his career helping to build sustainable communities that we can all live in and be proud of. Nick, as his friends and colleagues know him, has been a leader in commercial real estate for 15 years focusing on delivering innovative financing solutions for affordable and workforce housing developments throughout the country. He’s also passionate about travel, believing the best way to understand and ultimately appreciate the people we share this world with is to celebrate the customs and cultures that make us all unique. Nick and Wendi have traveled throughout the world and spent some of their most significant life events in far-flung places with wonderful and diverse populations, and they have made travel a core element of their children’s life experience. Nick’s desire to help others and to create a world where children’s differing abilities do not diminish a family’s access to enrichment is a core part of Enriching Escapes’ mission.

Bea McConnell


Bea McConnell is a business litigation attorney and partner at Englander & Fischer, LLP, a boutique law firm in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. With over twelve years of litigation experience, championing charitable causes is a natural extension of Bea’s dedication to advocacy. Bea’s passion and appreciation for the opportunity to travel with her husband compel her to help others enjoy the same experience. Given that Bea has lived in Tampa for most of her life, the opportunity to support a local grass roots charitable mission such as Enriching Escapes is invaluable to her.