Friday, February 21, 2020

(Courtesy of Kids of Courage) Kids of Courage (KOC) has done it again.

On Wednesday, August 14, over 100 seriously ill children and 275 volunteers made their way to airports around the world to kick off a unique eight­-day adventure to Phoenix, Arizona.

The ride was truly a K.O.C. one, with music, dancing and joy! As the flight touched down in Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, the crew was ready and waiting to greet all the amazing Couragers.

The entire group was graciously welcomed to the beautiful Pointe Hilton Resort. Joy pervaded the Grand Ballroom as the first night was kicked off with singing and dancing throughout dinner. Master hypnotist Jim Kellner surprised everyone with his comedic and fabulous show to end the night.

After a hearty morning breakfast on Thursday, the entire group was bussed to the award-winning Odysea in the Desert. The aquarium surpassed imaginations, from a 14-foot alligator to glowing jellyfish and little, pudgy penguins. Next door photographers took mind-bending photos at the Visual Museum while Couragers pretended to be riding roller coasters or painting the Mona Lisa. The evening was ushered in by jostling knights at the brand-new, nearby Medieval Theatre. Intriguing sounds of trumpets and braying hooves filled the arena as a gripping tale played out on the stage. Couragers cheered their teams on and enjoyed the finest beverages available to royal spectators.

Friday began with bumper cars, bumper boats, bumper-to-bumper moments of fun. Half the group started their day in the arcade, shooting rifles, lobbing balls and zooming down virtual racetracks. Pinball machines beeped and whirled as Couragers repeatedly beat high scores. Across the street, the second group spent their morning splashing down a lazy river and wading in a wave pool. Grand water fights broke out on the bumper boats as campers and counselors soaked each other with built-in water guns.

Shabbos was excitedly ushered in by glowing campers who put on their best for the special day. Singing, bonding and the Shabbos spirit were in the air. From sumo wrestling to Bingo wars, not a person in the room was left un-entertained. Ping-pong tables, friendly chatter and an over-abundance of goodies filled the tea room as the hours flew by.

Magic happened on the dance floor Saturday night as Matt Dubb took the stage and blew the audience away. From bopping beats to dropping drums, Couragers danced like you’ve never seen a dance before. Jaw-dropping moves, spins, whirls and twirls were abundant between lit-up costumes and Couragers on counselors’ shoulders.

Sunday was filled with fun, fun and more fun! Matilda the Musical was the star of the show as girls watched the stage musical and met the cast after the show. From laughs to awwws, the production entertained the young and old with its whimsical humor and sweet storyline. The The boys’ group started their day with an Arizona Diamondbacks game—one of the Couragers even caught a ball! After the game, the boys were invited down to the field and every single one ran or rolled the bases. A delicious BBQ ushered in the evening and Kids of Courage ended the day together at Castles n’ Coasters theme park, arcades, mini golf and more.

If only the countless smiles and laughs from Monday could be bottled and stored, there’d be enough to last forever. The day started by heading to Lake Pleasant—a lake in the middle of the desert! Out there between the dry desert hills and under the brilliant sun, Couragers enjoyed water activities, ice pops and magic shows. Jet skis took off from one side of the dock while on the other a group of Couragers hopped aboard a cruise. The giant water slide was another hit, with campers and counselors speeding down it and performing flips as they flew into the water. The night ended with a brilliant performance you’ve got to watch to even imagine what it was like. Couragers donned ornate costumes and outfits and walked the Kids of Courage Fashion Show. Pairs and groups of counselors and Couragers twirled, danced, walked, jumped, rolled and even slid down the runway to the sound of an ecstatic audience and the music of their choice. It was a night to remember—might be hard to top it ever!

What a wild day Tuesday was! The last full day in Phoenix had a Western note. The group spent the morning watching cowboys, gun shows and a lively band at Rawhide Wild West! Couragers rode mechanical bulls, went rock climbing and took a train tour around the park. Poker was taught in the saloon and Couragers practiced how fast they could shoot guns in the outdoor heat. After a quick freshening up, the evening banquet began with a song and dance in the ballroom. Emotion filled the air as Couragers got on stage and shared their stories. As the last night of K.O.C. came to a close, everyone packed up, got ready for departure and said their goodbyes. Along with their K.O.C. signature gear they packed many smiles, memories and enough courage to last until the next adventure!

What a magical eight days it was in Phoenix, Arizona!

Next up: Kids of Courage is running the Miami Marathon in February and you’re invited to this four-day, three-night getaway. Sign up at RaceForCourage.org and bring the entire family!

Kids of Courage is a volunteer-based, 501(c)3 non­profit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of medically fragile children and their families through year-­round programming and bi­annual adventure trips. For more information or to make a donation visit kidsoc.org. Be sure to follow @KidsOfCourage’s adventures on your favorite social network.