Nicklaus Children’s Hospital patients who need ventilators get beach day

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – You could see the joy on their faces.

Each splash and each dance move on the sand was a reminder of how precious life is.

Young patients at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, dependent on ventilators to help them breathe, got to enjoy a day at the beach Tuesday.

It’s an event patients like Andrew Nagel look forward to every year.

“Because I get to hang out with everyone else,” he said.

The carefree day was made possible by the Ventilation Assisted Children’s Center, or VACC, camp, with help from volunteers as well as Miami Beach Fire Rescue.

Without their help, it would be difficult for these patients, like Michelle Croce’s 15-year-old son, Gavin, to enjoy such a day.

“We really can’t go to the beach unless we carry him, which, he’s getting bigger now, he’s 15 now, so he’s getting bigger, we have to carry the ventilator,” Croce said. “This is just an awesome opportunity.”

VACC Camp provided special hand-held ventilators to make it all possible, allowing them to breathe without their devices while in the water.

“(We’re) giving the chance to them to experience something that some of them might only get once in their life, so it makes me full of happiness and joy,” Miami Beach Fire Rescue Capt. Victor White said.

Each patient enjoyed a light swim, sun bathing, games, flying kites, as well as lunch provided by Nikki Beach.

Going to the beach may be something some of us take for granted, but for these patients, it’s an experience of a lifetime.

“Seeing them so happy, enjoying every minute, feeling they can feel as free as anyone else, it’s fantastic,” VACC Camp Director Maria Franco said. “They don’t feel they have limitations and that reminds us limitations are in your head.”

About the Author:

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.