A 13-year-old Lurgan girl is to jet off for a trip of a lifetime to Disneyworld in Florida after being nominated by her hospital nurse.
Jemma McBride has been very ill since 2008 and despite struggling with serious bowel problems she was only diagnosed with her condition last year.
Jemma, who has had six long years of suffering, was struggling through school as she dealt with her problems.
Not only did she feel unwell but her problems led her to be introverted. Her father Geoffrey said Jemma wouldn’t socialise and suffered anxiety because of her condition.
He said he and his wife Joanne repeatedly brought her to the doctors but eventually she went to Craigavon Hospital who referred her to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
Geoffrey said it was there that they met Tracy Close, a paediatric nurse specialist who worked closely with Gemma. Tracy had been with Dreamflight as a volunteer and recommended that Jemma go on the trip.
Jemma’s dad said the family, who are from Trasna Way, couldn’t believe she had been nominated.
“She has suffered a lot over the years. Although she is a bit better now, it has been very stressful for her,” he said.
“We were very surprised Jemma was nominated especially because there were so many other sick children in the hospital. She is over the moon to be going and she feels very privileged. We feel very honoured that she is going,” he told the MAIL.
“She is very exciting and feels very important now but because of her anxiety she wants to know every detail before she goes,” he said.
Jemma, who is a pupil at Lurgan Junior High School, has two sisters Rebecca aged 18 and Lucy aged eight.
The former Carrick Primary School pupil is jets off to Florida next month.
The trip is through Dreamflight, a registered charity which provides trips of a lifetime at no cost to families. Jemma is one of 191 children who will fly on a specially chartered Boeing 747 to Florida.
All are accompanied by a team of medical carers to spend 10 magical days of fun and excitement. Many children could not undertake such a trip without the support of the army of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and non-medical volunteers who care for the children 24 hours a day. The children are promised a fantastic week visiting theme parks including Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld, Universal Studios and Discovery Cove where they will swim with dolphins.
Dreamflight believes that fun and joy are just as important as medical research and equipment.