MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Monday was an extra-special Spring Break day—ahead of a fun-filled week—for several kids who are often limited because of their special medical needs.
Ventilation Assisted Children's Center Camp, or VACC Camp, is a free, week-long overnight camp for children who need tracheostomy ventilators, C-Pap, BiPap or oxygen to support breathing—which often can limit their activities because of their dependency on medical technology.
The camp, hosted by Nicklaus Children's Hospital (formerly known as Miami Children's Hospital), is in its 29th year.
On Monday, several kids and their families enjoyed a day at Miami Beach. For many of them, the trip to the sea and sand is a first.
Maylan Chavez was at Nikki Beach Monday, making it her 16th year at VACC camp. The experience is so important to her--she even has the camp's name tattooed on her leg.
"The friends you make at VACC camp are irreplaceable and there's just nothing like it. There's nowhere else you can make these types of bonds and connection in just one week," Chavez said.
Several firefighters and emergency responders volunteered their time and energy to provide easy wheelchair access by setting up wood planks as a ramp leading from the shore to the ocean.
For Victor White, a Miami Beach Firefighter-Paramedic, this is his 5th year volunteering.
White said the look on the kids' faces as you see them get in the water for the first time is "something you can't get anywhere else."
The camp is put on every year during Spring Break to give the kids an enjoyable vacation, and allow their families to socialize with other families experiencing similar challenges.
VACC camp hosts approximately 150 children representing more than 20 states and countries. The camp is offered free of charge and is open to children ages five and older.
"We have families from outside of the country," said Dr. Moises Simpser with Nicklaus Children's Hospital, adding they have one child from Venezuela. There is also one kid from New York, another from Rhode Island, and even local kids.
There are events planned for each day of the week, including a dog show, a boat ride, bowling, a luau and more.
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