It took me sometime to try to find the words that express how grateful I am to you for sending our family on a trip of a lifetime experience. Guy is not a person with many words so I will express our gratitude for him. Words that come to my mind to express what this trip was all about are family, togetherness, laughter, excitement, and peace. The last night of our trip, while all of us were sitting on the beach, I just took it all in. I was able to breathe. A sense of serenity, hope, and peace surrounded me like the breeze from the ocean and I was able to breathe. Our daily lives are filled with unending what if questions, doctor appointments, therapies, meetings, stress, and chaos. This trip was what we needed to feel alive again. We needed this; I needed this. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making us feel whole again. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for allow us the opportunity to set all the chaos aside, surround ourselves with each other and just be a family.
When planning this trip, we decided to just book a few fishing charters and explore the rest on our own. Our first adventure was of course a beach day! The weather was perfect! Our hotel was right on the beach which made going to the beach anytime we wanted a great convenience. We filled our wagon with lots of sand toys and as soon as the kids seen the ocean, they took off running towards it! Guy is more of a pool kid than ocean, but he mustered up the courage and let the ocean meet his feet. While the others were busy jumping the ocean waves, Guy and I explored all the beach toys and built sandcastles together. Later that evening, after having dinner and eating some amazing food, we found ourselves back on the beach. While there was still some sunlight, we played a family game of football. Of course, Guy scored all the touchdowns and made the best tackles! As the sun went to sleep and the moon came out to play, we started feeling these tiny little creatures crawling on our feet. Sand Crabs! The challenge was on to catch a few of these fast-crawling creatures.
The next day, our goal was to get out and explore the town and just see what adventures we could get ourselves into. That’s when we located the home of the Grave Digger Monster Truck! We pulled into the attraction not knowing what to expect and I am so glad we made this pit stop! When Guy seen the huge monster trucks, his eyes lit up like a box of sparklers. We got to ride in a monster truck! While riding this monster truck, we went really fast up and down some hills, turned corners on two wheels, ventured out into the woods for some off roading experiences and the big finish was jumping over a school bus! Guy was a little nervous at first but once the ride was over, he asked to do it again! While browsing through the merchandise store, there was a surprise visit from the Grave Digger himself Dennis Anderson! Guy got to meet, get an autograph, and take pictures with a celebrity! The autographed banner now proudly hangs in his room.
Our next adventure was some more beach time. We jumped the waves, played football on the beach, and built sandcastles. Guy is a little skittish of the ocean waves and our hotel had an indoor pool, after some beach time, we gathered our belongings and went to the indoor pool. We had lots of pool toys to keep us busy for the next few hours. That afternoon, we decided to drive down the road of Outer Banks and see what other adventures await us. At the end of the road, we discovered a lighthouse! This lighthouse was not open, but we were able to explore its surroundings and even went on an adventurous walk on some trails next to the lighthouse. During our hike, we got turned around and we were lost! The kids turned on their amazing hiking abilities and were able to guide the parents back to the vehicle.
Captain Kerns is one of the best fishing captains! His down to earth personality made us all feel welcome upon his boat. He spoke and interacted with the kids as if he had known them their entire lives. Guy doesn’t show many emotions, but Captain Kerns was able to put a huge smile on Guy’s face during our fishing charter experience. Captain Kerns put us right on top of the fish and they did not disappoint. He had us catching fish left and right. As soon as the line hit the water, the fish were hungry for the bait. When setting up this trip, we decided to book with Captain Kerns, Rock On Charters, for two fishing trips. This would allow Guy the opportunity to get to know the captain and hopefully feel comfortable enough to be more active vocally and physically. One our second trip out with Captain Kerns, Guy was moving around the boat, smiling, and even talking with Captain Kerns! It was truly an experience that we nor Guy will ever forget.
Captain Kerns told us of a place that we could go and see the deep-sea boats returning from adventures and possible see the big tuna’s that have been caught. So, we ventured to that boat dock. While there, we did get to see some massive tuna fish that had been caught but then Guy spotting something interesting. He pointed in the direction of more boats at that dock and told us he had seen the red boat on tv. It was the Fishin’ Frenzy boat that is on the National Geographic TV show called Wicked Tuna! We were so thankful that Captain Greg was there at his boat and allowed the kids to come aboard to sit in the big chair for some pictures. What a week! The kids got to meet two celebrities!
Our next adventure led us to the Bodie Island Lighthouse. This lighthouse was open, and we all mustered up the courage to attempt the climb. The stairs inside are very old and the rule is that only one person at a time was allowed on them. I was nervous for myself but also nervous for Guy. I wasn’t sure if he would be able to make it to the top. Surprise! He made it to the top and made it seem effortless! The tour guide was very knowledgeable and shared information about the lighthouse that had us all in awe. We visited the same lighthouse that evening and got to witness the light on. We took a little evening stroll around the lighthouse and got to see a baby otter.
During our sight seeing adventures, the kids spotted an arcade. We spent some time in the arcade and the kids got to race on motorcycles and race to the finish line. The kids got to bring home a few hermit crabs. They picked out a tank, sand, and toys for their hermit crabs. That evening, we spent our ls night on the beach. We played football, looked for sand crabs, and had sparklers on the beach. We each took a moment after fireworks to express our feelings and likes about our trip. In Guy’s words “My favorite part of the trip was catching big fish. Captain Kerns’ let me reel the pole when the fish took the bait. It was exciting! I also liked riding in the big monster truck!”
Like I said in the opening of this letter, I don’t have all the words to express our gratitude. What this organization and its supporters do for families like mine is truly magical. It was a breath of fresh air to see Guy’s sweet smile and just be a kid for a change. Our hearts were open and our minds were free! We needed this, I needed this.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
The Drake Family
Suji Durci from MI enjoyed horseback riding in Hawaii including an wonderful Deep Sea Fishing Adventure
We left Michigan at 4:45 a.m. to go to Kentucky. We drove through Ohio and when we reached the Kentucky border we screamed and got very excited. The mountains were beautiful and I had never seen mountains before.
We got to Holmes Bend dock and got to go on our houseboat. Mrs. Kelly took care of us and I started fishing right away with my brothers. We caught a lot of blue gill at the docks and saw the biggest carp ever. My dad drove the boat to a cove that we tied up to and we got to swim A LOT off our water slide. We took a smaller boat everyday especially towards dark to try and catch my “big fish” back in the deep coves and hollers. On the third day I met “Doc,” (a. k. a.) Mr. Gene Smith. He is with a fishing ministry and he came with his family to us to help me with my “big fish.” Doc came very early the next morning and afternoon and we went fishing all afternoon. We fished so hard we had to stop for hamburgers and ice cream. We came back to rest up so we could fish some more. I did almost catch two muskie earlier in the day but the fish were fast asleep that evening because they would not bite but once. We really liked “Doc” he tried so hard to help me catch a big fish and I will always remember what he did and the ice cream.
We met many people on the dock and in the marina and they were so nice. They tried to help me catch the biggest fish I could. Ms. Kay, Mr. Bill, Ms. Nancy, Ms. Dottie, Ms. Mary and Mr. Dave and all my new friends helped us all day to catch big ones. There were a lot of blue gill and white bass. At nighttime a few people put lights in the water to attract fish and we caught a few that way. My favorite way to fish was with worms, bobbers and minnows. “Minners” as they called them. The last night Mr. Bill told my dad that he would take us to catch big fish and we went and I caught 11 white bass in one trip and too me they were big. I was so excited. I was catching them one after another. We took pictures with them. It was harder to catch the musky because the lake levels changed and it was very hot.
We met two friends and their names were “George and Eugenia” they followed us everywhere on the lake. Probably because I liked to feed them a lot. They ate right out of my hand. They were the “dock ducks.” Everyone knew them.
I also saw a “skank lizard’ on a log and a brown water snake too. In Kentucky they have some snakes called “cotton mouths” and copper head snakes that are poisonous. Thank goodness we did not meet any of them.
They also had a beach which I loved to swim in as much as I could when were at the dock. I met the owner’s granddaughter, Kyndai and her brother Tanner. And she was a nice new friend. We got to Jet Ski too and we tipped over and that was a lot of fun. I have never been on a jet ski and I was so excited. My dad drove fast and my mom drove slowly.
I will never forget this vacation ever. It was the greatest vacation in the whole world. I saw so many new things and learned so much more about fishing and I will never forget the people there, we called them our “dock family.” I felt very special and I am so lucky to have gone on this vacation. I caught so many fish and learned so much. I want to say thank you to the people who sent me on this trip and they will always be special in my heart. God bless them for helping every kid in need. On my vacation I never thought one time about what I have been through because I had so many other things to think about, like how lucky I am. One last thing, I caught many fish and that is the greatest. I didn’t catch the “biggest fish” but I met so many people with the biggest hearts ever.
Thank you everyone for all of this.
I Love You,