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Disney treat for ill children
Almost 200 seriously ill or disabled children from the UK will be whisked away on a "holiday of a lifetime" to Florida next weekend - and some of them have their suitcases packed already.
Registered UK charity Dreamflight - which has operated every year since 1987 - is set to take 192 children to the US destination, having taken almost 5000 to date.
The British Airways supported charity will charter a plane next Sunday and jet off for an action-packed week of fun which will include the opportunity for each child to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove.
The children will leave their families behind and will be looked after by 15 doctors, 50 nurses and 12 or 13 physios - all volunteers.
The total cost of the trip is around £750,000, all of which is funded by voluntary contributions and covers chartering a Boeing 747, medical equipment and medication, swimming with dolphins, police security and communications equipment.
Kaitlin Stewart, 12, from Dundee, is all packed and ready to go, because, as her mother Tracy said - "she likes to be organised".
Kaitlin, who suffers from juvenile idiopathic arthritis and is affected from head to toe, said she is "really excited", and has been dreaming about the trip.
"I have dreams about it every night...swimming with dolphins under water," she said.
She is also looking forward to going on rides at theme parks, adding: "I'll try anything once."
Her mother, Mrs Stewart, described Kaitlin as a "water baby" and said she is delighted that she has been given this "lifetime opportunity".
"She's a wee fighter. She's never known any different. She was diagnosed when she was two. She's grown up with it," she said.
Adding: "We would need to save for years. This is a holiday of a lifetime."
Nicole Lewtas, 14, from Wirral, said she "can't wait" and described Dreamflight as an "inspirational" charity.
Nicole, who suffers from thyroid cancer - a condition rare in children - hopes to one day become a neurosurgeon and is looking forward to chatting to other children who are going through similar experiences.
"I can't wait to have fun in the sun," she said.
Adding: "I just love the idea of being in Disney - a magical experience."
Nicole said she likes the prospect of further travel because she loves to "learn new things".
"The more you learn, the better, I think," she said.
Speaking about Dreamflight, she said: "I think it's a really inspirational charity and I think people who work for that charity should be proud, and I'm proud to be going away with them."
Adding: "It's just such a lovely charity."
Nicole's mother, Sharon Kane, who recently performed a skydive to raise money, said she believes her daughter will be in "really good hands".
Ms Kane said Nicole had major surgery last year which "basically saved her life".
"She has missed quite a lot of school because of it. She went back in September and hasn't missed a day," she said.
Ms Kane said Nicole is managing to catch up with all her work despite all the days she missed.
Just like Kaitlin, Nicole also has her suitcase packed.
"She's just on an absolute high," Ms Kane said.
Adding: "It has made her feel not so alone."
Noah Cunningham, nine, from Southport, is "counting down the hours", according to his mother Vicki.
Noah, who is a wheelchair user with muscular dystrophy, said he is most looking forward to the "really fast rides" and swimming with dolphins.
"I've never really done anything like that before," he said.
Noah, a wheelchair football player who one day hopes to play for England, is excited about getting to know the other children on the trip, adding: "I'm very good at making friends."
Mrs Cunningham said the trip was a "fantastic opportunity" and said she is not worried about Noah getting homesick.
"I don't think they're going to have a minute to be thinking about home. I think we'll miss him more than he'll miss us," she said.
She also said she was "very content" and "very happy" with how he will be looked after, and is pleased that he will not miss out on any of the activities.
Mrs Cunningham said the family have started fundraising to "put our bit back in".
The children will be waved off from Heathrow next Sunday afternoon.