Penny Jurkash, a 6-year-old student at Northside Elementary School who was diagnosed with cancer last year, was surprised, along with her parents with a trip to Walt Disney World by J-Si Chavez of the Kidd Kraddick In The Morning radio show Tuesday afternoon.
Principal Jennifer Burns made the faculty and students think they were assembling in the cafeteria to celebrate Constitution Day.
“We have a special treat for you today,” Burns said as she addressed the student body. “It is Constitution Day and we have a special program for you today about Constitution Day.”
Burns said the Constitution became the plan for our government and this week is Celebrate Freedom Week, and there are a lot of neat things going on this week in celebration of the Constitution.
To help them kick off the celebration, Burns introduced Chavez to the audience. Chavez entered the stage only to share that he has nothing to do with Constitution Day, but that he was there to present a special young lady with a very special gift.
“If you vote for me, all of your wildest dreams will come true,” Chavez joked as he spoke into the microphone. “I’m actually not here to talk about Constitution Day. I love the Constitution and everything, but I have something a little more important to talk about.”
Chavez invited Penny and her family to join him on stage. He informed them that he works on a radio show and that his late boss began a program called Kidd’s Kids more than 20 years ago. He said instead of telling them what the program is all about, he invited another family to show the Jurkash family what the program is all about. He invited the Johnson family to join him on stage.
Stacy Johnson took a few minutes to talk about what the program has come to mean to her and her family.
“We got to be apart of Kidd’s Kids last year, and it was a trip of a lifetime,” Johnson said to the Jurkash family. “There is no other trip you’re going to be able to take like this. Everything is paid for by the listeners of the show and donations. It’s a first class trip that you’ll never forget.”
Penny was diagnosed with acute lymboblastic leukemia in December 2012, just four days before Christmas. Tony and Leslie Jurkash are both elementary teachers at Northside. When they were presented with the trip, they were overcome with such emotion that it moved them to tears.
“This is such a huge surprise,” Tony said. “It’s very hard to put into words what this means to us. We’ve been limited with the things we’ve been able to do. This is going to be great for our family.”
Leslie said it’s been very difficult to see her daughter go through something like this, and she is looking forward to going on this family vacation.
“When your kid goes through something like this, your main focus is to keep things as normal as possible,” she said. “For the past six months we have been in and out of the hospital while Penny has been undergoing chemotherapy. It’s been a very difficult time, and we just feel so blessed right now.”
Chavez said all they want to do is give families a good week together, because sometimes it’s the last positive memory many of the kids get to share with their families.
“Our goal is to give them an opportunity to enjoy spending time with one another in a fun atmosphere,” he said. “We want to bring a smile to the faces and help cultivate positive memories.”
He said this has been the heart of Kidd Kraddick and they want to continue his legacy.
About Kidd’s Kids
At Kidd’s Kids, the primary goal is to provide chronically ill and/or physically challenged children ages 5 to 12 with an unforgettable adventure. Throughout the year, they work hard to raise the funds necessary to send those special kids on an all-expenses paid, fun-filled, vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida. Most of their funding comes from donations made by listeners to the Kidd Kraddick In The Morning radio show, corporate sponsors and various fundraising events.
Each year, they sponsor approximately 50 children and their families, including siblings between the ages of 5 and 16 for the trip, or as many as the Kidd’s Kids Board may deem appropriate under the circumstances. All aspects of the trip are coordinated by Kidd’s Kids. All funds raised go directly to cover the cost of sending the children and their families to Walt Disney World, administrative expenses of Kidd’s Kids, and to sustain an endowment fund for the purpose of providing long-term growth and stability for the charitable programs of the Kraddick Foundation. The Kraddick Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization, founded by nationally syndicated morning show personality Kidd Kraddick. The Kidd’s Kids program is based on the premise of making a difference in the lives of children with special medical needs.
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