Date dream fulfilled: 07/12/2016
Summary: An incredible young woman, Chloe has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. After a long wait, Chloe went on her dream holiday to France and Spain with her boyfriend Jordan. In her own words, Chloe describes her dream and the positive impact it had.
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On Monday 10th October 2016, my boyfriend Jordan and I awoke early. We packed final bits and bobs into our car and with butterflies in my tummy we began the trip we had patiently waited for. Filled with relief that I was well enough to stick to our plan, excitement flooded my mind… we were on the road! This is where our road trip began - a trip about much more than just touring the many beauties of France and Spain. This trip had taken meticulous planning and organisation, from how to keep two weeks’ worth of intravenous fluid at the perfect temperature to certificates to drive a Motability car abroad and triple checking accessibility in each destination planned. This was more than a holiday, instead it was a test of my ability to be semi-independent and to be adventurous. It was my chance to take well thought about risks to achieve something incredible. It was proof I am more than my illnesses and that I can do things I never would have imagined possible, given the right support.
The key word ‘support’ was something we received in abundance, thanks to the wonderful charity that supported our holiday at Dreams Come True. The team of dedicated staff working for Dreams Come True provided an invaluable support to ensure that someone with extremely complex health needs could enjoy the same experiences as others, and do so without the stresses and strains of planning this with very little experience of how it works to travel whilst having a huge array of needs. The knowledge and understanding that Dreams Come True staff have is incredible. Their support to get my dream absolutely perfect made me feel truly appreciated and valued. I was given the chance to do planning myself, which was a huge uplift in a time when I have limited choices when it comes to being independent. Not a single part of the planning process was forgotten and as a result Jordan and I have been left with the most incredible memories.
After an incredibly hard year we could visit my top bucket list destination, Barcelona! First stopping to see many sights along the way we began our journey on the ferry from Dover to Calais and taking a drive to Reims. We stayed in a quirky hotel made up of single room ‘chalet’ type cabins and explored the local supermarket. Submerged in the french culture it was at this point I still could not believe we were on our dream holiday. At this point I had no idea that the whole trip would be above and beyond any expectation!
We were able to visit the beautiful cathedral in Reims before our scenic drive to Geneva, Switzerland. In Geneva, we travelled 1100ft in only a few minutes up Mont Saleve, providing a breath-taking view of the landscape surrounding us and a fantastic spot to watch the paragliders jumping from the mountain edge! Our hotel was a classic wooden cabin style with a collection of teddy bears and clock work, we were made to feel very welcome and, although a little tired from the travel, I treasured and enjoyed each and every moment.
Our third stop was as far south as we could possibly get, Cannes! Cannes became a point to rest especially as it was torrential rain the entire time! We were very lucky that this hotel was wonderful so it was a lovely place to enjoy and relax, soaking in the experience without having to rush around and see everything possible. After all, my dream has given me confidence that I can travel and that I do not need to doubt my own abilities in that sense, meaning I feel more confident to travel again in the future when my health allows - something I did not imagine I would ever say.
We left Cannes for Barcelona a little early (spurred on by the weather forecasts of warmth and sun!) and this part of the trip was truly magical. We were able to visit the mind blowing architecture of Gaudi and Font Magica - a fountain that literally comes alive with lights to music at night and during the day adds to the vibrant city's landscape. We visited the Sagrada Familia, a church that has been in construction for many years, understandably too when seeing it and the skillmanship that has gone into producing the best stone works I have ever seen. We visited the Marina and marvelled in awe of the huge yachts and, as night settled, we watched the skyline light up through our floor to ceiling window in a space themed hotel buzzing with character.
Barcelona stole my heart in a way that Dreams Come true also did when I found out about the charity. Both are fuelled by passionate people wanting to make something wonderful and, in very different but inspiring ways, the people of Barcelona and the Staff of Dreams Come True have achieved very similar successes. As our time in Barcelona came to an end, we set off towards our final main stop in Orleans, France - not before waving Barcelona goodbye for now and thinking with a thankful heart just how lucky I was to be blessed with a chance to forget the daily stresses of unwell life and experience true joy and fulfilment, again doing something I have chosen to do rather than the many medical holidays to costa del NHS that are certainly not quite so satisfying!
Orleans was the perfect ‘icing on the cake’ on our 2600 mile road trip. The dainty French town was as French as I can possibly imagine and the tranquillity gave us the chance to reflect on our experiences with huge amounts of respect and thanks to everyone involved in making my dream become reality and provide memories that now will keep me going on the toughest days and darkest night.
Returning home, we agreed that Dreams Come True is a charity that goes above and beyond for the young people they support. They put in endless hours to create the perfect experiences for people like myself and the impact on my emotional wellbeing has been huge. My dream left me feeling empowered and ready to face a few more difficult health battles ahead. It reminded me that kindness is out there and, when partnered with the unity and team work that DCT has within the staff, it is worth every penny of support so they can help many more children and young adults like myself.
To Dreams Come True, thank you for the irreplaceable memories. Thank you for the friendship I feel to your charity and the people that make it magical. Thank you to the team that go above and beyond their roles to make dreams happen. To everyone reading this, I ask that If anyone can donate to the charity so that more young people get to experience the rejuvenating happiness that I have felt, please really consider doing so and help make dreams become reality!