“Once we got there, everything was taken care of. It was wonderful to be there and do so many things,” says Sara Scaparotti, reflecting on the trip her family received from Rebecca’s Gift.
After losing their 3-year-old son Joey to GM-1, a rare neurological disorder, Sara and her husband Sam channeled their grief into helping others. They founded the B Brave Foundation to support families “like ours” — families who face similar challenges in the face of a pediatric terminal neurological disorder.
Supporting others and focusing on their surviving son, David (age 6), Sara and Sam did not anticipate being on the receiving-end of similar generosity. “I was on a local Cleveland networking page and learned about Rebecca’s Gift. Someone had referred us.” It was a beautiful and meaningful surprise.
Soon after, there was an email from Kat. Sara and Sam were touched by the idea, but didn’t have immediate thoughts about a vacation destination. With plans to attend the National Tay Sachs and Allied Diseases Conference in Jacksonville, they realized they could add a few days and go to Disney. Disney was extra-meaningful because the family had gone in December 2015 as Joey’s wish trip. “We knew it would be special to go back.”
In traditional Rebecca’s Gift style, Kat spent a lot of time learning about David’s interests and tailored the trip to fit the Scaparotti family. A dessert party. A pirate boat ride. A backpack of goodies hand-delivered to David. Gift cards to cover incidentals. “It was extremely thoughtful and very well-organized,” says Sara. “From a mom perspective, not having to do the travel details was so nice. Kat makes it so easy.” The planning by Rebecca’s Gift allowed the family to take the bittersweet step of a first vacation without Joey, as a family of three.
David’s favorite memories were the Star Wars ride and the dessert party at Hollywood Studios. The family also spent a whole day at the Magic Kingdom. Rebecca’s Gift had provided David with his own spending money in the form of gift cards. It was special for him to be able to shop for souvenirs — and for his parents to not have to say no to his wishes. Sara adds, “Even the meal plan! I didn’t have to say no to myself!”
“The trip was so meaningful for us,” shares Sara, “because we got to do a lot of things that we didn’t do with Joey. It was special that way, but also bittersweet.”
Building new memories without Joey is essential and it is also hard. “The three of us share the memories of the trip with Joey. We have to live-on, even though he is not here. I feel like our bonds grew with that experience. It was emotional, but good.”
“We have to live-on, even though he is not here. I feel like our bonds grew with that experience. It was emotional, but good.” — Sara Scaparotti