Keri Goff, Community Relations Manager, Brevard Achievement Center
June 26th was a magical day. It was the day I was able to witness pure innocent joy and excitement through the eyes and actions of two individuals with disabilities participating in the Brevard Achievement Center’s Adult Day Training program.
Meet Travis. He loves dolphins. He loves everything about dolphins. If there is a photo or video of a dolphin, Travis will be sure to point it out to you. Wear a shirt with a dolphin on it, and Travis will come over to see it expressing his love of dolphins to you. Although Travis can sometimes be hard to understand, he has no problem letting you know his enthusiasm and desires.
Lily is a lover of water. She loves to swim and snorkel and spend her time in the water when she can. Lily hears with the help of a cochlear implant that she must remove when swimming, plunging her into an ocean with no sound.
Because of the challenges that both Travis and Lily face every day, doing things that seem simple enough to you and me, can become out of reach and sometimes impossible. When Travis expressed that he wanted to swim with dolphins, it seemed a far stretch that he would ever be able to do so. The expense, added onto a lifetime of medical costs, is a luxury hard to afford. On top of the cost burden, Travis cannot swim, so it seems that swimming with a dolphin is off the table. For Lily, attempting to interact with a wild animal without being able to hear the instructions from the trainers could be downright dangerous.
This is where the Brevard Achievement Center’s “Dream. Wish. Wonder” program steps in. The aim of the program is to make things once thought impossible or out of reach, possible and achievable. Through the work of the “Dream Team” and the generosity of financial donors, the Dream. Wish. Wonder program was able to grant this wish of Travis’ and send his friend Lily to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity with him. Both Travis’ mom Cindi, Lily’s mom Sharon, and I (the officially designated Brevard Achievement Center Chaperone) experienced the delight in watching both Travis and Lily swim with a dolphin and snorkel over a living coral reef at Sea World’s Discovery Cove in Orlando. An American Sign Language certified interpreter was brought into the water so Lily could safely understand the instructions and enjoy a wonderful experience with Thelma the dolphin.
Travis participated in a shallow water swim in the lagoon. Thelma allowed all the members of our group to interact with her in ways that would be incredible on any given day, but from my standpoint, watching the simple joy and excitement through Travis and Lily made this a day I will personally never forget. It showed me that through the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, it’s the little moments of purity, often taken for granted, that make life beautiful.
We had an early morning dolphin swim time and spent the rest of the day enjoying the snorkeling over the live coral reef, an amazing meal, and many floats down the lazy river. Travis could be heard exclaiming “I DID IT!” with arms thrown high overhead before offering up high fives to everyone who would partake throughout the day, making complete strangers grin from ear to ear at his excitement. Lily, while naturally quieter than Travis, could be witnessed making the sign for “swim” and giving thumbs up and high fives all around.
While Travis’ dream of swimming with dolphins, shared with his friend Lily has been fulfilled, there are still many other wishes to be granted to the people served daily by Brevard Achievement Center.
Would you like to help make a dream come true and support the programs of BAC? Learn more at: bacbrevard.com/ways-to-give.
The mission of the Brevard Achievement Center is to provide persons with disabilities innovative services and opportunities to achieve personal success. In this moment, these memories created, that mission was fulfilled.
Photo credit Discovery Cove Orlando.