Kate AtwoodBy Kate Atwood

Valentine’s Day is ceremoniously one of the biggest days of giving during the year.  In fact, the U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making this day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.

This Valentine’s Day, 13 families from Georgia will be holding a different kind of card; one filled with love and the opportunity of a lifetime. These families are the selected VIPs to be a part of Bert’s Big Adventure, an annual trip that takes terminally or chronically ill children and their families on their first trip to the best place on earth: Walt Disney World.

The trip is a vision brought to reality by Atlanta’s Bert Weiss, of All the Hits Q100’s The Bert Show and his wife Stacy. There are only three other trips in the country similar to this one, making it an experience unique to our community and the special families that get to be a part of it.

I got a chance to attend the kick-off party and meet the Alexander’s, an Intown family that is holding one of these golden tickets.

“I’m excited to meet Mickey Mouse,” blurted Dominic, just 5-years-old. With his excitement and energy, it’s hard to comprehend that Dominic has spent most of his life on dialysis, a result of his being born with cystic kidney disease. But thanks to Dominic’s mom, Cara, he now has a new kidney and is able to run and play as any child should.

Dominic and his mom, along with his Dad and three siblings, will all board the private plane provided by Atlanta’s based ASA, on Feb. 18 for a trip they are sure to never forget. “I’m just excited to see Dominic and his sisters go on the rides and not have to worry about anything,” said Cara.

Being a part of the trip is just the beginning of the big adventure for these children and their families.  As Bert stated, “We take a lot of pride in getting to know these families. From here on, we have each other’s back.”

Bert’s Big Adventure allows these families to get away from the daily routine of stress, and for a few days, turn their focus from their child’s illness to having fun. As one mom put it, “it’s a chance to just let go.”

This month will mark the eighth trip for Bert’s Big Adventure; you can help keep this magical moment alive for more families in our area by visiting the website http://bertsbigadventure.org.

Kate Atwood is the founder of Kate’s Club, an organization that provides support to youth who have lost a parent or sibling. www.katesclub.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.