MIAMI, FL — Cory is 9 years old and lives in tropical South Florida. Elliot is 13 years old and lives in the Windy City. One might think that these two boys, who live hundreds of miles apart, may not have much in common, but they do. Both boys love this time of year because spring means VACC Camp – Miami Children's Ventilation Assisted Children’s Center Camp – and VACC Camp means swimming, sailing, arts and crafts, theme parties, games and field trips. Both Cory and Elliot are quadriplegic and are looking forward to VACC Camp, the nation’s first camp for ventilation-assisted children, which is in its nineteenth year.
The week-long camp kicks off Saturday, March 19th at A.D. Barnes Park, 3401 SW 72 Avenue, at 1:30 p.m. Please see below for list of camp activities.
“The whole family looks forward to VACC Camp every year,” explains Cory’s father, Maurice Harrison. “Everyone at the camp is extended family and this is our annual family reunion.”
For nearly 2 decades VACC Camp has provided a great escape for “technology dependent” children to participate in activities which are otherwise not readily accessible to them. Attracting children from around the country, VACC Camp gives children and their families the chance to socialize with others with similar medical needs, thus enhancing their self-esteem and social skills.
“I want Elliot to see that he’s not alone, that there are other children like him,” said Judy Santiago, Elliot’s mom. “He used to love to go swimming. It’s been three years, since Elliot’s been in a pool – that was before a virus left him quadriplegic,” explained Judy. “I can’t wait to have him back in the water.”
The VACC camp is offered free of charge and is open to children ages five and older. Managed by the hospital’s Division of Pulmonology, medical care is available around the clock to assist parents if needed.
Saturday, March 19th
VACC Camp Photo Opportunities
A.D. Barnes Park
1:30 P.M.: Campers start arriving
3:00 P.M.: Games/Entertainment/ Talent show instructions
4:00 P.M.: Decorate your vest/cowboy hat/Western activities
5:00 P.M.: Get to know each other/ parents and campers
6:00 P.M.: Dinner barbecue
7:00 P.M.: “Western theme” party
Sunday, March 20th
10:00 A.M.: Sailing at Shake-A-Leg
Monday, March 21st
A.D. Barnes Park
9:00 A.M.: Pet Therapy Dogs
10:30 A.M.: Wildlife show
Tuesday, March 22nd
10:00 A.M.: Parrot Jungle
Thursday, March 24th
A.D. Barnes Park
2:00 P.M.: Swimming – weather permitting
MEDIA ARE WELCOME. Campers and physicians are available for interviews. For additional information, please contact Cynthia Gutierrez-White at (305) 668-5514.
About Nicklaus Children's Hospital (2022)
Founded in 1950 by Variety Clubs International, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is South Florida’s only licensed specialty hospital exclusively for children, with approximately 800 attending physicians, including more than 500 pediatric subspecialists. The 309-bed hospital, known as Miami Children’s Hospital from 1983 through 2014, is renowned for excellence in all aspects of pediatric medicine with many specialty programs routinely ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report since 2008. In the 2022-2023 U.S. News ranking, the hospital tied with two other hospitals as the number one children’s hospital in Florida. The hospital is also home to the largest pediatric teaching program in the southeastern United States and since 2003 has been designated an American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet facility, the nursing profession’s most prestigious institutional honor. For more information, please visit www.nicklauschildrens.org.