‘Haiti to Orlando Adventure’ offers emotional lift for young survivors

Seventeen Haitian pediatric patients who were treated at Miami Children’s Hospital (MCH) for injuries suffered during January’s earthquake in Port-au-Prince recently returned from a two-day trip they will remember for years to come. Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation (MCHF) sponsored the “Haiti to Orlando Adventure” for the young patients and their families. The excursion — which was spearheaded by Miami Children’s Hospital pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. Chad Perlyn, and included visits to Universal Studios Florida, Nickelodeon Suites Resort and Give Kids The World Village — helped bring smiles to the young patients’ faces.

Organized by the foundation and Dr. Perlyn, leader of the hospital’s first Haiti Relief volunteer team, the trip was conceived to provide an emotional respite to complement the patients’ medical care. Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation underwrote the adventure through donations made to its disaster relief fund from organizations, including The Honda Classic, PGA, and many concerned supporters.

Miami Children’s Hospital nurses and staff who helped treat the young patients while at the hospital served as chaperones and translators for the children and their families. “We believe a bit of fun and entertainment provides emotional benefits that can help physical healing and we’re pleased to support and join in this effort,” said Lucy Morillo-Agnetti, president of Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation. “I extend my heartfelt thanks to our supporters and all hospital and foundation staff whose donations of time, talent and funds ensured that dreams really did come true for these young patients.”

On day one of the trip, the youngsters were treated to breakfast and a send-off party at Miami Children’s Hospital prior to the bus ride to Orlando. Upon arriving, the kids enjoyed a pool party at Nickelodeon Suites Resort before being treated to a special dinner and entertainment at Give Kids The World Village in nearby Kissimmee. Following breakfast the next morning at Nickelodeon Suites Resort, they headed off for a day at Universal Studios Florida.

As they arrived at the park, a delegation of Haitian Universal Studios employees greeted the children with chants of “Haiti, Haiti” and embraced them as they disembarked the bus to add extra excitement and help provide a sense of “home.” The children enjoyed a variety of thrilling rides and a host of characters before heading back to South Florida to share their exciting adventure with family and friends. Dr. Perlyn receives great satisfaction in helping restore the lives of children affected with birth defects or injuries, which led him to Haiti following January’s earthquake.

While there, he operated on numerous children with severe disfigurement and lifethreatening injuries and was joined by dozens of other volunteers from Miami Children’s Hospital. Ultimately, several young Haitian patients were transferred to Miami Children’s where some continue to receive treatment. “For these two days, it was all about stopping being patients and starting to be kids again,” Dr. Perlyn said. “We just wanted to give them a couple of days where the water slide was their biggest obstacle.”

Companies and individuals interested in donating to the Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation Disaster Relief Fund will provide aid to children in need may do so online at < www.mchf.org/donate/ >. To learn more about the foundation and offer support, visit < www.mchf.org > or call 305-666-2889

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