Positively Upstate: Non-Profit surprises local girl with free trip to Disney
RENSSELAER (WRGB) - Tuesday, 3-year old Drea Harmon of Rensselaer, got the surprise of her lifetime.
Non-profit Baking Memories 4 Kids is sending her and her family on a week-long, all-expenses-paid vacation to the Disney parks in Florida.
Frank Squeo created Baking Memories 4 Kids after battling cancer. He knows the strain an illness can put on a family, so he wanted to help these children and families create lasting memories.
"I had advanced Stage-three cancer 10 years ago, and I knew if it wasn't for miracles along the way, I would never have survived, so I knew there was a purpose and a destiny for me to get cancer."
Squeo started selling tubs of chocolate chip cookies. He uses all proceeds to fund the vacations.
Squeo says anyone can nominate a child to surprise.
Drea Harmon was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at just 2 weeks old. Her family says daily treatments have become "the norm", but they say she's a fighter and always has a smile on her face.
"This family came to us through a gentleman named Steve Erby, who is the owner of Monolith Solar, you see their panels all over the northeast, he knows this family." Squeo said. "He bought enough cookies this year alone to send 10 of these families on these life changing trips."
On Tuesday morning, Squeo, the Rensselaer Fire and Police Departments, and the Monolith Solar group, surprised Drea and her family. They pulled up with a caravan of police cars and firetrucks, with lights and sirens. Then Squeo delivered the good news.
Drea was shy, but excited when Squeo handed her the Mickey Mouse stuffed animal.
"I just can't wait to see her face when she makes it there, when we get off the plane. That's what makes our day, just seeing her smile. I can't put it into words, I'm so appreciative." said Drea's parents Jesse and Nina Harmon.
Squeo says these surprises create a lot of happy tears. He says it's a blessing for him to meet each amazing family.
"It is, in their words, not mine, "lifechanging" to just have a week with no doctors no needles no scans." Squeo said. "It is just absolutely indescribable for these families, what this trip means to them."
Squeo surprised the first family with a trip in 2013. This year 45 families are being surprised, and by the end of this year, almost 90 families will have received a free trip.
Squeo says almost a million cookie orders have been sold since Baking Memories 4 Children started. He says it takes 300 orders to send a whole family on one of these vacations.
You can learn more and place an order by visiting the website: https://www.bakingmemories4kids.com/