We recently had the opportunity to conduct a trip with an incredible young man, Braden Waymire, and his family. Below is an email we received from Tim Waymire which summarizes the experience in their words.
I need to preface this email with the following disclaimer: I am not a talkative person and I do not share my emotions with anyone except my wife and she usually has to pull them out of me. Taking that into consideration, I love sharing our family’s time in the Florida Keys thanks to the Jose Wejebe Memorial Foundation.
After suffering terrible headaches, Braden was diagnosed with a midbrain tumor in August of 2009. After establishing a baseline size for the tumor, the treatment plan was to only monitor the mass. This plan lasted nearly 6 years. In April 2015, our family found out that Braden’s brain tumor had grown. Braden had three brain surgeries between June and November that year. The surgeries left Braden with double vision, short term memory loss and after the last surgery he suffered a stroke. The stroke drastically impacted Braden’s left side making it difficult for him to walk and to use his left arm.
In December 2015, Braden started an intensive regimen of speech, occupational, physical and vision therapy to lessen the impact of these new deficits. Braden continued with vision therapy until July 2016, and had eye surgery to correct the double vision in September 2016. Although the schedule has become less intense, Braden still continues with speech, physical and occupational therapies at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
In October 2016, the Jose Wejebe Memorial Foundation gave our family the most wonderful gift that would be the trip of a lifetime! Our family spent 8 days in the Florida Keys filled with fishing, sightseeing, family adventure, relaxing and most of all bonding. Diagnosed with hemibalismas (which causes constant tremors) Braden has very little control over his left arm. To mitigate interference caused by the tremors in his left arm Braden will normally sit on his hand or contort his arm behind his back to regulate the constant shaking. The hemibalismas is compounded with hemidystonia and Braden has trouble walking great distances. However, Krissy Wejebe and the Jose Wejebe Memorial Foundation team took Braden’s medical complications into account and still provided our family eight days of sheer happiness and joy.
There was an instant bond between Krissy and my wife Nikki during the first phone call. A few more phone calls and the trip that would change the lives of our family was set. The Jose Wejebe Memorial Foundation arranged accommodations for us in a house appropriately named “Paradise at the End of the Road.” As the name stated, it was absolute paradise! Our family had never been to Florida, or to the east coast. Our family vacations have been much more local to Arizona and limited to where we can drive to from Phoenix in less than a day. Nikki and I have always wanted to take our family on a trip like the one that was given to us by the Jose Wejebe Memorial Foundation. Nikki and I could never have dreamed of the week that Krissy and her team gave to us. It was life changing!
Krissy and the Jose Wejebe Memorial Foundation made sure that everyone in our family was given an opportunity to experience something that they had an individual interest in. Krissy made it a point to get to know each us. Taking everyone’s unique interests into consideration, Krissy planned activities that each of our sons would hold dear as a fond memory. Gavin, our oldest son, has a great interest in culinary arts and is dual enrolled in college while still in high school. Krissy set up a behind the scenes tour and a meeting with the owner of the Square Grouper (our family’s new favorite restaurant anywhere!)
Braden has always loved dolphins and Krissy took us to the Dolphin Research Center. Following directions from the dolphin trainers, Braden and his brothers were able to interact directly with the dolphins and have them do several different exercises. Landen, our youngest, is passionate about marine biology and Krissy scheduled time for us to meet with a lead scientist at Moat Marine. Landen was able to learn and ask questions about coral and the scientific breakthroughs at had in saving our ocean’s corals. Krissy also set up for our family to go to the Turtle Hospital and we all loved learning about sea turtles and how they are saved at this wonderful facility. For Nikki and I, the entire eight days were more than a dream come true. Nikki and I watch shows on TV about the Florida Keys and houses like the one we stayed in and we dream. Never in our wildest imaginations did we think that we could have this experience with our family.
The time that we spent on the boats was bliss. Our first day, on the eco-tour with Kenny and his son our boys fed sharks! We also saw dolphins, a sea turtle, jellyfish, and learned so much about the waters and the wildlife around the keys. Our first day on the Spanish Fly, Braden caught the first three fish! I credit that to Krissy’s coaching and the skillful Captain Dave Maloney. Capt Dave kept apologizing for the wind and the choppy waters, but we were in heaven! Everyone in our family caught multiple fish and I had the catch of the trip (at the time) in a big barracuda! The truth is, we could have caught nothing at all, and this would have been the most memorable trip our family had ever taken! Thanks to Krissy and Capt Dave we also had a lot of great fishing stories to tell! That night, Gavin wanted to cook the fish that we caught for Krissy and Dave. They came over and we had an awesome meal together. It really warmed our hearts that our 16 year old son wanted to give back to the JWMF in this way and they graciously accepted. Having a culinary student son definitely has advantages!
Our next trip out was on the shorter 17′ foot boats. Capt Dave and Capt Grif took our family out on two boats and we caught fish after fish after fish! It was amazing! Braden caught a couple bonnet head sharks and a lot of jacks! We spent the entire afternoon on the water and again, it was like heaven for us! Gavin caught a barracuda, Landen caught a mackerel, Nikki and I each also caught a lot of jacks. To end the day, Capt Dave hooked an 8 foot, 300-pound bull shark that had been snatching bait off of our lines. After hooking it Capt Dave handed the line to Braden and then to Gavin in the other boat. Braden and Gavin were able to feel the power of a fish that we had only seen on tv and in an aquarium. Braden held the line for five minutes or so and then Gavin fought the beast for at least 30 minutes! After Gavin’s arms were too tired, he handed me the pole and I lost the shark in about 3 seconds! We saw the sun set on the water, from the boat … I will never forget that imagery!
On our last day of fishing, I lost the the title of “Best catch” when Nikki reeled in a sailfish! I love her competitive spirit and she did an amazing job with the coaching that Krissy gave her! Despite a great respect for the ocean and all of the its inhabitants, Nikki took the ceremonial plunge into the open water afterward! We had seen schools of jelly fish all afternoon until it was time to jump in and the jellyfish made way and gave Nikki the respect that she earned. Nikki also being respectful got back aboard as quickly as she could! Those pictures are now a family treasure! We also caught blackfin tuna and muttons that day. The blackfin tuna was the tastiest tuna we have ever eaten!
Braden remarked many times to Nikki and I how happy this trip was making him! Braden also told us how the fishing trips actually helped to calm his ever shaky arm. Braden said that being on the water with the people he loves the most meant the world to him! The cool ocean breeze, the sea life right beneath us, the fish that we caught all led to a peaceful serenity in our souls and most importantly in Braden’s heart!
I know that I have left out so many details in this summary. Those details are not forgotten and I visit them often in my mind. We also take every opportunity to share our wonderful experience with this amazing Foundation! I want to sincerely thank Krissy, Dave, Kevin, Grif, and everyone else who contributed to make our trip to Florida so amazing!
As I am typing this, it is difficult to hold back the tears of joy, we truly feel blessed to have had this experience. I know that Jose is smiling down from heaven right now and that his heart is bursting with love and grace for the work that his daughter has continued in his memory. My family and I feel so very fortunate to have been introduced to this wonderful organization. Through watching Spanish Fly videos we can see that Jose and Braden have a similar soul and share a pure joy and respect for life. Krissy is one of the strongest people I have ever met. Krissy seems to have picked up where her Dad left off and I cannot imagine the strength needed to work in the memory of my father and she does it with honor, grace and dignity. Braden and Krissy share a very similar strength that comes from their hearts, a love of life and wanting to help others. I am certain that if Braden and Jose were to have met, they would have become lifelong friends!
During those eight days in Florida, our family made memories that we will hold tightly to for the rest of our lives! Braden has another MRI this week and will continue to have them for the rest of his life and they are very distressing to our family. Braden is a fighter and is the most inspirational person I have ever known. As we were boarding the plane to depart from Key West, Nikki and I were sad that our time in paradise had come to an end and we both vocalized our dismay. Braden spoke up and told us that he “was not sad, he was thankful for this experience of a lifetime and that he was able to share it with those he loved the most!” Braden is truly amazing and he teaches the rest of us how to be better people.
Braden’s tumor affected our whole family. Krissy Wejebe and The Jose Wejebe Memorial Foundation gave our entire family positive memories to keep forever!
A million times, thank you!
Tim Waymire and the Waymire family
(Tim and Nikki; Gavin, 16; Braden, 15; and Landen, 13)