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First Escape Reflections

The idea was just that for the past year. It was a concept that my own life as a special needs mom inspired me to make a reality. It was a lot harder to make it all come together than I ever imagined. But let me tell you, it was worth all of the effort.

Our first trip – a cruise out of Tampa, FL – began on October 13 and I brought along plenty of anticipation in addition to my luggage. The planning I had put into this initial trip spanned across several months and I desperately hoped that as my concept became a reality, it lived up to everything I had imagined it would be. In many ways, it exceeded what I had envisioned.

Our group consisted of four families, three therapists, and two mission ambassadors. And of course, my own family. Everyone fit right in with one another. The support for the families from not just the therapists, but from one family to another was amazing and honestly, beyond my expectations at times. Our three therapists were ready and willing to lend a hand breaking down wheelchairs or just being an extra set of hands to care for the kids so that the parents and other caregivers had a little bit of break. And families were there for each other in those ways and in an emotionally supportive way as well. I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the way the Carnival staff went above and beyond on a number of occasions. They truly contributed to an amazing vacation for these special families.

Our Activities

We had a couple mornings of therapy time for the kids. One of the best things about those times was seeing the siblings get involved – something that doesn’t always happen in normal therapy settings. We also had a couple of fun activities for the entire family after each therapy morning.

We were lucky to have a therapist in our group who is also a yoga instructor, so our parents and other family members were able to have a yoga session one morning while their children were being cared for by a therapist or another family member. This time for themselves was so treasured!

At our ports of call – Grand Cayman and Cozumel – we enjoyed a beach day and went to a museum park where we learned about some of Mexico’s rich history. There was plenty of unplanned fun in between all of that as well. You can see just how much fun everyone had in the many photos and videos we have from the trip.

An Experience Beyond Just Fun

While there was so much fun had over the five days of our trip, the whole experience was more than that for every single member of the family. Multiple people shared with me that the support everyone provided one another really was crucial in helping them enjoy the trip. There were friendships forged among the families and therapists that will long outlive our five-day cruise.

That additional benefit of the experience is what I always hoped for. That’s the Enriching part of the Escape. It goes beyond the actual vacation and the moments that take place over the course of it. It’s what makes the vacation meaningful and rewarding for every member of the families that take part in an Enriching Escape. As I begin to plan our next trip, I can only hope that it is just as gratifying for the families that participate.

4 Comment(s)

  1. Tom Zane
    November 24, 2018

    We are so proud and humble to be a small part of this successful trip, and to be associated
    with the outstanding people who belong and to Wendi Hoffer the leader and founder of Enriching Escapes.

    1. Wendi Hoffer
      November 29, 2018

      Thank you, Tom, and the rest of the group who helped us pull off this amazing trip!

  2. Tracy Thurston
    January 31, 2019

    As the grandmother of a 13 year old with autism, I have witness the struggle of my daughter to provide for her children. He is her first born and she has two younger sons. Traveling is difficult and stressful for my grandchildren and their parents. When they do vacation, it is anything but relaxing for everyone. Thank you for recognizing the need for families of special needs children. The world would be a better place with more people like you!

    1. Wendi Hoffer
      January 31, 2019

      We’d love to hear more about your daughter’s family and possibly include them on a future Escape! If you’re inclined, fill out our nomination form via the tab below. And thank you so much for the nice ending comment!

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