EXCELSIOR, Minn. (WCCO) – As kids step from the boats and onto the docks at Big Island, a day of fun and pleasure awaits each one of them.
As parents of special needs children will tell you, the health challenges of one child affect the entire family.
Nobody knows that better than Stacy McAllister.
“When kids have a lot of medical needs and challenges, sometimes you don’t get that everyday experience. You don’t get to just enjoy life,” McAllister said.
McAllister’s 5-year-old daughter, Kate, was born with Pfeiffer Syndrome. The condition results in a fusing of the skull, preventing the cranial bones to grow and expand with the brain.
McAllister said when you’re in and out of hospitals, days at the beach are unheard of. Not just for Kate, but her siblings as well.
“Nobody is going to say anything about the fact she has challenges or differences from other children. It’s a huge bonus,” McAllister said.
So with the goal of helping families like the McAllister’s, the Lake Minnetonka Power Squadron teamed up with the nonprofit organization, “Hope Kids.”
“It’s a day of fun, a day of forgetting the daily challenges they face. They come here and not think about it,” Power Squadron commander, Tina Langhans, said.
Record high water on Lake Minnetonka threatened to postpone the fun until later in the summer.
But that would mean inconveniencing families who made special arrangements to attend, or those who had traveled great distances from across the state.
Fortunately, an armada of Power Squadron volunteers wouldn’t let that happen.
The kids and their families were loaded into a fleet of boats and brought to the island at no-wake speed. All the better for those to enjoy a scenic boat ride.
After lunching on hamburgers and hot dogs it was time to catch fish. For others, it was a chance to take a dip in the chilly water.
Eleven-year old Andrew Beal has been counting the days.
“I’ve been looking forward to swimming and a boat ride here, to big island. And probably fishing and water spraying,” Andrew said.
Yes, simple things like operating the Excelsior fire department’s fire boat hose is an experience kids will never forget.
A simple pleasure that restores the joys of just being a kid!
“The day that they got here is unforgettable, it’s unforgettable,” Langhans said.