This has been a big year for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s VACC Camp (Ventilation Assisted Children’s Center Camp) as it celebrated its 30th anniversary in March. Since the program was founded in 1986, more than 180 families, some of whom have traveled from other places, have benefited from this unique experience. VACC Camp has provided children with tracheostomies (requiring oxygen and ventilators to breathe), along with their families, a week filled with activities such as swimming, boating and bowling regardless of their medical limitations. The camp has made possible experiences they never thought possible, such as their first swim in the ocean or sailboat ride, despite the amount of equipment that typically accompanies them. Held each year during spring break, the camp activities are all conducted in a medically-safe environment thanks to the help of volunteers and medical personnel from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital who donate their time and services to ensure a safe week for all involved.
A 30th anniversary celebration took place at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Blue Lagoon during the camp week, which was decorated thanks to the support of one camper’s family, the Jenkins family, who also provided the entertainment for the party. It was an amazing event that brought together campers, their families and volunteers from 1986 up to date. One of the first campers to ever attend the camp was there, Kevin Gebo Jr., who after having a tracheostomy is now a famous trumpet player. He dazzled guests that evening with an impressive performance. Also during the celebration, campers’ parents shared what VACC Camp meant and did for their family. Volunteers of many years also shared what camp has meant to them as a slide show with photos from the past 30 years of camp continuously ran on the walls around the room.
The invitation list for the 30th anniversary celebration included different departments from Nicklaus Children's Hospital that have helped VACC Camp through the years, doctors, hospital and foundation administrators, members of both boards of directors, and donors who have contributed to VACC Camp. Dr. Moises Simpser, who started VACC Camp all those years ago, received a beautiful crystal torch from the VACC Camp family and also two proclamations from Miami-Dade County, one naming March 24 Dr. Moises Simpser's day and one naming March 24 VACC Camp's day. It was an event that created lasting memories for all attendees.
The fun did not end on the last day of the camp, as later on a brunch was held in April to thank VACC Camp supporters who have made everything possible. For more information and to support VACC Camp, please visit vacccamp.com.