Braely Vickery, 12, and her family have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. On Nov. 21, the Vickery family will take the vacation of a lifetime, courtesy of the larger-than-life radio personality Kidd Kraddick.
Kraddick, who died earlier this year at a golf tournament fundraiser, created a foundation whose “primary goal is to provide chronically ill and/or physically challenged children (ages 5 to 12) with an unforgettable adventure,” according to the website www.kiddskids.com.
The Vickerys will be joining other families with special needs kids on a vacation to Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, Fla.
Braely, who attends Sulphur Springs Middle School, was born with a narrowing of the aorta, a condition known as coarctation of the aorta and subaortic stenosis. When she was six weeks old, she quit breathing and was life-flighted to Children’s Hospital in Dallas.
According to her mom, Carley, the hole for blood to flow through was only the width of a straight pin.
“She’s had two open heart surgeries and one heart surgery through her ribs,” Carley noted. “Eventually, the tissue that grows under the aortic valve will close off the blood flow.”
The family knows they are facing possible heart valve replacement surgery in the future.
“They’ve told us she will probably need it during her lifetime,” Carely said. “But not yet. They will wait it out as long as possible.”
At the present time, Braely is seeing a team of doctors once every three months. They are scheduled for a visit soon after they return from the trip, when they will learn if Braely needs another heart catharization.
Braely, who loves country music and Uncle Sy from “Duck Dynasty,” attends cardiology camp each summer through a program supported by Children’s Hospital in Dallas.
The Vickerys learned of the opportunity to become a Kidds’ Kid this summer from a family of one of Braely’s camp friends.
“One of the families told us about Kidd’s Kids,” Carley noted. “I went home and looked at the information on their website.”
The application process was lengthly and complicated. Braely’s doctors and nurses completed forms in “a pretty large packet,” Carely said.
They submitted the required information and waited.
Last month, a FedEx package was delivered, notifying the family they had been chosen. The packet also included information regarding the trip.
The entire family gets to enjoy the vacation. Dad Bobby, a Frisco firefighter; mom Carley, who works at Gaylean Insurance; and brothers Garret, 18, and Peyton, 14, along with Braely, will be making the five-day trip that begins with a chartered Southwest Airlines Flight from Love Field.
“They fly us out of a special hangar,” Carley said. “We park in a different area. Last year, they had the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, representatives from Southwest Airlines and photo booths for the kids. The kids also got to sit on the plane for photos and visit the cockpit.”
A total of 50 families were selected for this year’s trip. One family has two special needs children, according to Carley.
“Most of the kids are from the Metroplex,” Carley said. “Only two were selected from East Texas – Braely and a boy from Tyler.”
The family will be provided with t-shirts, lanyards and badges that give everyone VIP?access to the parks. Meal vouchers are also included in the trip.
None of the family has visited Disney World.
For her part, Braely, who likes to help her mother in the kitchen, is looking forward to seeing Cinderella’s castle in person. The only one she’s seen was in China.
“My teacher went [to the Disneyland] there and showed us a picture of it,” she said.
She’s also looking forward to seeing the Disney princesses, even though she’s almost outgrown that phase.
“When you get to the sixth grade, you’re almost out of all that,” her mother explained. “But, when you get to Disney World, it doesn’t matter what age you are. I’m looking forward to seeing the princesses, too.”
One of Braely’s dreams is to meet and have dinner with one of the Disney network’s show celebrities.
The young girl also wants to ride the Splash Mountain roller coaster.
The family plans to stay at the Swan and Dolphin resort.
“It’s the one in the middle of the four resorts,” Carley said. “From there, we get to go where ever we want. We have full reign of the parks.”
By the time the family gets to Disney World, the parks will be decked out for the holidays. They plan to see not only Disney World, but other resorts, including Epcot and Animal Kingdom as well.
“I’m looking forward to that,” said Bobby. “I’m also looking forward to getting away from the house and what she’s fixing to face and just having fun as a family. We’ll get to experience the parks in a way not everyone gets to experience them. And, with a VIP badge to top it off.”
Braely’s parents are aware of their blessings. With their daughter’s medical bills and two growing boys, they said they could never afford a trip like this.
“On my way to work, the morning show came on,” Bobby said. “They were doing the annual fundraiser to support this trip. I cried for probably 20 minutes. It hit me how emotional this trip is going to be.”
For more information on Kidd’s Kids, visit www.kiddskids.com.
Watch the News-Telegram’s Facebook page for daily updates from the family beginning Nov. 21.
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