(Franklin, GA) — One local Heard County family is about to embark on a whirlwind journey this week thanks to a charity organization based in Atlanta.
5-year-old Kaylee Holcomb, a kindergarten student at Heard Elementary School, got the call from the folks at Bert’s Big Adventure on Monday afternoon letting her and her family know that they were invited as guests for this week’s magical, all-expenses-paid, five-day journey to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Established in 2002 by Bert and Stacey Weiss, Bert’s Big Adventure provides the trip annually for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families.
To qualify for Bert’s Big Adventure, children must be between the ages of 5 and 12, live in “The Bert Show” radio listening area, prove financial need and have never been to Walt Disney World.
Kaylee’s mom Tina was very shocked by the news to say the least. “I applied for Kaylee to go on the trip last November, but about a week later I was contacted and told she had not been selected.As it turns out, for the first time in the history of the trip, another family was unable to go this week and Kaylee was selected as the alternate. We were so very surprised.”
5-year-old Kaylee Holcomb will enjoy an all expenses paid trip to Walt Disney World this week with her family.
Thirteen other children and their families were selected for the 2014 adventure. Kaylee will be joined on the amazing trip by her mom, her dad Michael, and her little 2-year-old brother Kody. The Holcomb family was working feverishly Tuesday night making preparations for the big journey.
They will be picked up at home by a limo Wednesday morning and will stay the night at a hotel in Atlanta before the big radio send off show which will air live Thursday morning before all of the selected children and their families fly out to Disney Thursday afternoon.
“We are just overwhelmed right now but also a bit nervous as none of the four of us have ever flown on an airplane before,” said Tina Holcomb. “It is so exciting and cool that we have this opportunity — Kaylee is just ecstatic.”
Kaylee was born with Down’s Syndrome or Down syndrome (DS), also known as trisomy 21, a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is the most common chromosome abnormality in humans, and the CDC estimates that about one of every 691 babies born in the United States each year is born with Down syndrome.
Despite her condition, Kaylee is one of the most active kids in the county and participates in many activities including Special Olympics and cheerleading — she cheered for the flag football team last year at the Heard County Recreation Department.
Kaylee’s adventure will not end after she and her family return home next Monday. Following the trip, Bert’s Big Adventure provides year-round support through initiatives such as the Reunion Adventures, the Fairy Godparent volunteer program and additional charitable services.
The trip and programs combine to create a community of families that establish lasting friendships with others facing similar challenges. To find out more about Bert’s Big Adventure visit www.bertsbigadventure.org.
Kaylee will turn six years old on March 21 which by coincidence happens to be World Down Syndrome Day. Stay tuned to HeardCitizen.com for further news and photos from Kaylee and her family’s amazing journey.