July 8, 2011 (The Oxford Press)
MASON — The shade at the waiting area for Kings Island’s log flume ride should have been a welcome cool down on a 90 degree day for Kyra Carter, but the 10-year-old could barely contain her patience as she waited her turn for one of the park’s most cherished rides.
Kyra, who lives in Centerville, was confined to a wheelchair because she had cerebral palsy, but that was not about to stop her from enjoying the thrilling drop and shocking splash of the log flume.
The Carters were just one of approximately 1,100 families who have a child diagnosed with a life threatening illnesses who converged on Kings Island Thursday for the annual adventure day sponsored by the amusement park. In total, 4,000 sick children, their parents, siblings and caretakers were given a special day at the park.
“We’ve been coming here for at least five years,” said her mom Kimberly. “It’s one of our favorite days of the year.”
The event is coordinated by A Kid Again, a nonprofit organization that provides monthly “adventure” outings for children with life threatening illnesses and their families. A Kid Again has come to the park each year since 1996, said its director, Jeff Damron, and the KI visit has become the single most popular event they host.
“The purpose of A Kid Again is to get these kids out of a hospital for a day and let them just be kids,” Damron said. “These kids are battling cancer and tumors and other illnesses every single day. This is one day for them to have fun and forget about being sick.”
Damron said the group outings allow children with illnesses to connect with others facing similar life threatening struggles. Similarly, because whole families attended the outings, siblings and parents were able to meet with others and draw support.
“So many siblings of children with illnesses feel almost discarded because all the focus ends up on their brother or sister,” Damron said. “Here, they can hang out with others in a similar situation.”
“Whatever we give these families, the park gets so much more back,” said park spokesman Don Helbig. “It’s the most special day every year at Kings Island.”
Dinosaurs Alive! one of Kings Islands’ newest attractions was a particularly popular spot because it was wheel chair accessible and could be enjoyed by everyone.
Jared Goettemoeller, 18, of St. Henry, sped through the attraction on his wheelchair with mom Linda and brother Adam in tow. Jared has Mitochondrial myopathy, a degenerative muscle condition.
“Jared’s always been into dinosaurs,” Linda said. “I think he enjoyed this attraction because it was something he could do all of.”
By Justin McClelland, Staff Writer, The Oxford Press, July 8, 2011