Extraordinary Gifts: One Vacation at a Time

“From the bottom of my heart, I would like to extend a BIG THANK YOU for the wonderful trip that you so graciously provided for my daughter, mother and me,” wrote cancer survivor Teresa Ponce. “It was so therapeutic to be home again and with my family!!!”

In writing this, Ponce had quite a bit to be grateful for, not only for having survived breast cancer, but along with her mother and five-year-old daughter, she had just returned from a life-restoring summer vacation at Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort in Carlsbad, California. Their seven-day vacation was provided courtesy of Extraordinary Family Vacations, the newest program from Send Me On Vacation (SMOV) in partnership with Grand Pacific Resorts.

SMOV is a timeshare-based charitable organization that awards vacations to cancer survivors with the intent of providing a vacation experience to women who have just gone through the tumultuous rigors of cancer and the recovery process. Grand Pacific Resorts has long believed in the power of vacations to bring families together to forge stronger relationships and reconnect them to what matters most. They also believe in the impact a business can make when uniting a vision to a cause. The partnership between SMOV and Grand Pacific Resorts was a heartfelt addition to their ambitious giving back programs.

It was with this intent that Grand Pacific Resorts launched Extraordinary Family Vacations and sent their first recipients –Teresa and her family –on a seven-day vacation they had only dreamt about on their own. In her application form, Teresa explained what such a trip would mean to them:

“Growing up my family did not have much money. I wanted to change things so I made a decision to attend Oklahoma State University. I had fifteen dollars in my pocket, a plane ticket and all of my belongings in two suitcases. I put myself through school and have worked hard my entire life.

“In June 2013, I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma stage 2C, at the age of 33. My cancer was specifically in my left breast; however I opted to have a bilateral mastectomy because the risks of it spreading were so great. After having both breasts removed I confidently decided to not have reconstructive surgery. I want my scars to tell my epic story and hopefully inspire others to take charge of their health and be courageous to deal with any adversity.

“….I have a beautiful, loving and vibrant five year-old daughter, Danessa. It is extremely hard for me to let my daughter see me like this; bald, no breasts, sick and scarred inside and out. Through many conversations, interactions and prayers it seems that Danessa has found peace in her heart about me being this way. We envision better, happier days as a complete family again. My daughter’s smile, her laugh and the time we spend together gives me the strength and willpower to fight. Days being numbered and tomorrow never being promised became a quick reality to us. Danessa and I have made the best out of every single situation and have the most sacred and humbling relationship between a mother and daughter.

“My mother Mary is a four-time cancer survivor (2x Breast, Cervical and Melanoma) who has not only had to be my caretaker, but is currently recuperating from her double mastectomy and chemotherapy. My mother travels an hour from Morrison to Enid every week then turns around and drives me the two hours to Cancer Treatment Centers of American in Tulsa. She then drives us back to Enid and stays for two days to cook, clean and take care of Danessa and me. My mother has been my backbone and strength throughout this entire journey. It breaks me down to see my mom work so hard managing my illness and taking care of my daughter and me. In my truthful opinion, my mother Mary deserves a vacation more than anyone I know, including myself.”

Life-Changing Gifts

Pledging to provide future life-changing gifts of this sort, Grand Pacific Resorts has committed to fund a minimum two Extraordinary Family Vacations with SMOV each year, in keeping with the company’s value statement, “Enriching Lives Through Extraordinary Experiences.” Furthering their support, Grand Pacific Resorts is also committing to sponsor fundraising events throughout the year, beginning with SMOV’s October Napa Wine fundraiser. “Crush Out the Effects of Cancer,” will take place October 2, 2014 aboard the famous Napa Valley Wine Train.

The Napa Valley Wine train will offer three different dinner options. The Silverado Car (hosted by Charles Krug Winery) at $159 per person offers a taste of some of the high end California grilled delights to be found throughout Napa Valley while enjoying an open-air railcar that features a western atmosphere. The Gourmet Car (hosted by Delectus Winery) at $189 features the options of both a Lounge Car/Dinner Car and a Dinner Car/Dessert Car with white linen tablecloths as well as relaxing on comfortable lounge chairs for dessert. Le Petit car hosted by Hunter III Winery at $189 features both early and late seating in an elegant atmosphere. Relive the glory days of when trains were at their peak by dining in luxury in the Vista Dome Car with its private chef, (hosted by Annadel Estate Winery) featuring 180-degree views of the spectacular Napa Valley for just $199 per person.

Each car’s dining selections will be paired with its vintner-selected wines, making this a truly unique experience for all those involved. For reservations and more information about this special wine train experience call the wine train at 1-707- 253-0920 (extension 221) and request the Send Me On Vacation Wine Maker Dinner to reserve your spot.

Giving Time Away From the Home-to-Hospital Routine

“I want to express a huge “thanks” in advance for what you all are doing,” continues Ponce. “Being a victim of cancer or watching a loved one battle cancer is, in itself, the same. I truly believe that caretakers and those who are closest to those suffering from cancer are the ones who are affected the most. Families NEED time to get away from the home-to-hospital routine that they are subjected to. Vacations bring healing, family bonding and restoration by allowing families to stop, regroup and regain their footing. Unfortunately this costs money, money that is being consumed in order to keep a loved one alive.”

While Ponce makes little mention of her economic situation, clearly she was watching every penny. Imagine their sense of gratitude when the three arrived to find a stocked refrigerator and gift cards to local restaurants. Their Extraordinary Family Vacation provided airfare for the entire family and spacious accommodations. Plus, Grand Pacific Resorts picked up the cost of their rental car.

Resort Trades applauds companies like Grand Pacific Resorts for their support of efforts such as SMOV, Christel House and others. To learn more about Grand Pacific Resort’s newest and innovative crowdsource giving program through their online nightly rental platform, ResorTime, visit and vote at http://ResorTime.com/Giving.

by Sharon Scott, RRP
owner/operator
SharonINK PR and Marketing

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