A brave little boy from Mansfield who has battled cancer had his dream of swimming with dolphins in Florida granted by a charity for children with serious and terminal illnesses.
In February 2010 at the age of two, Joe Hogan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is a cancer of the white blood cells, and had to undergo three and a half years of gruelling treatment.
But brave Joe has always taken the illness and treatment in his stride and now in remission from the cancer, enjoyed the trip provided by Starlight Children’s Foundation.
Joe’s mum Leanne said, “We all had the time of our lives at Florida, I am eternally grateful to Starlight and all it’s supporters who made Joe’s wish come true and provided us with memories to treasure forever.
“Joe’s treatment and the side effects have unfortunately meant he had been robbed of much of his childhood so to watch him almost burst with happiness in Florida is one of the best experiences of our lives.
“His little face beamed as soon as he saw the aeroplane and didn’t stop until the day we had to leave.
“He has always been fond of dolphins but had never seen one in real life so for him to be able to swim, feed, touch, cuddle and even kiss a dolphin was such an amazing experience for him that he will treasure forever.”
A spokesperson for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which organised the dream holiday, said: “He is busy making up for lost time and enjoys trying out new activities, such as swimming, that were impossible for him to do when he was ill.
“Joe loves swimming and because he adores animals and particularly dolphins he has always dreamt of swimming with dolphins. His mum Leanne heard about Starlight and the wishes it grants and decided to put Joe forward for a wish in the hope that the charity would be able to make his dream come true.”
Starlight arranged for Joe, his parents Leanne and William, his brother Finley, aged two, and his sister Lexi, aged four, to have a magical week-long holiday in Florida in July, during which Joe’s wish of swimming with dolphins finally came true.
The highlight of this once-in-a-lifetime holiday was the trip to Discovery Cove, which is a beautiful park that offers amazing experiences for families wishing to swim with dolphins.
The Starlight spokesman said: “At home, Joe spends lots of time looking at pictures of dolphins but seeing them in real life for the first time was a magical moment for him.
“The whole family were able to spend time in the water with the dolphins, who were very friendly and playful, and loved being kissed and cuddled. It was a very special experience for Joe and his family to share and the icing on the cake of a very memorable holiday.”
To refer a child for a wish or to make a donation, please go online at www.starlight.org.uk.
For every £1 you donate, 93p goes towards helping Starlight’s very ill children.