Nov 23, 2014 14:56 By Peter Collins
Cayden Thomas, from Cardiff, who received a kidney transplant from his dad, was selected for the charity break
An eight-year-old Cardiff transplant patient says he will “never forget” swimming with dolphins – thanks to a dream Florida holiday for hundreds of children.
Cayden Thomas, who has one of his dad’s kidney after his two were removed, enjoyed nightly parties and eating “smiley faces” for breakfast on the sunshine break.
The Ely youngster was one of nearly 200 sick, seriously ill and disadvantaged children specially selected for the break of a lifetime by the Dreamflight charity.
Now he has returned home, he cannot stop talking about his American adventure.
During the 10-day trip he visited SeaWorld, Universal Studios and Disney’s Blizzard Beach.
As a final treat, the children were able to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove – providing many with the opportunity of a lifetime.
Eight year old transplant patient Cayden Thomas with his family in Cardiff
Back home in Cardiff, Cayden – who attends St Nicholas Church In Wales School, in the Vale of Glamorgan – said: “It was fantastic and I made loads of new friends out there.”
For many children, the holiday represented their first trip away from home without their parents.
Cayden, whose only other trip abroad was to Majorca, said: “In Florida we had parties every night. I also went on the Hulk Ride and swam with the dolphins.
“It really was a holiday of a lifetime and I’ll never forget it. The best part was swimming with the dolphins.”
His mum, Becci said: “He hasn’t stopped talking about it since he got home. He said that every morning he had ‘smiley faces’ [potato snack] to eat at breakfast when he usually has them for dinner.
“We have loads of photographs of him out there which we will cherish.”
Long-time celebrity patron Charlie Dimmock, who rose to fame on television garden show Ground Force, said: “It is fantastic to see how the children change, I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Charlie, who escorted the children on the trip, said: “It must be a huge shock for the parents. For some of the children they are a bit nervous, often it’s the first time they’ve been away.
“But as time goes on, they meet other children and they chat about their problems. They get to do things they don’t get to do at home and their confidence just grows. They come back different children, they are so independent.”
A Dreamflight spokesman said: “We believe that fun and joy are just as important as medical research and equipment – especially for children who perhaps can’t wait long enough for the breakthrough they need or whose illnesses and treatments have brought pain, distress and disruption to their lives.
For more information on the charity visit Dreamflight.org and Seaworldparks.co.uk.