I was introduced to the Dobbins family from former trip recipient Jennifer Arrington. When families are in hospitals for extended amount of time they get connected to others who are experiencing the same heartaches and struggles. Jennifer had told me about a little boy named Caleb Dobbins and after reading his laundry list of diagnoses I knew that this little dude and his family could benefit from some time on the water.
Caleb has been moving mountains since before he was even born when he was diagnosed in utero with a Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformation that was on his lung and so big it was shifting his heart to the opposite side of the chest. He would later go on to be diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, Focal Epilepsy, Asthma, Chronic Lung Disease, Chronic Aspiration into the lungs, Global Developmental Delay, Hypotonia, Scoliosis, Autism, and Mixed Receptive Expressive Language Disorder. Caleb is also a twin with his brother Connor, along with three other fantastic siblings Wyatt, Makayla, and Brantley.
During their trip was also the celebration of Caleb and Connors 5th birthday. The family decided to celebrate early because Caleb was scheduled for another surgery on his birthday. We were lucky enough to celebrate with them and my son (Jose’s grandson) was invited for Connor and Caleb’s first sleepover.
They enjoyed fishing close to shore with Captain Larry Lewis, Captain JT, and Captain Chuck Jones. I got to take them to my home away from home Dolphin Research Center, learning about all kinds of marine life at Aquarium Encounters of the Florida Keys, and a tour with Key West Shark tour Adventures with an old friend of Jose’s Kenny Harris.
It’s not about the fish that were caught, but the feelings and memories that our families take home with them. Caleb’s mom sent me this after their trip, and while I hate to see any family struggle its notes like this that make my heart smile.
“It was an absolutely amazing trip making priceless memories we will never forget. For the first time Caleb was able to see what it was like to pack a suitcase for a vacation and not another stay at the hospital. To see him happy and thriving enjoying life to the absolute fullest is something I will never be able to say thank you enough for. The fact that we were able to do this as a family just made it that much more incredible, because having a child with special needs and who is medically complex doesn’t just affect the child, but also the whole family especially the siblings. So this trip was an amazing way to break free from reality and to be reminded of how joyful life can truly be. Krissy and the entire foundation gave us something money can’t buy. They reminded us we are a family, strong and courageous and together we can endure the greatest mountain. That Caleb is not defined by his different abilities. He is just a child waiting to experience life and enjoy it to the fullest. Grateful is an understatement for sure.” -Lyndsey Dobbins