GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Talk about the surprise of a lifetime! One Goochland family is going on an all-expenses-paid vacation, courtesy of a nonprofit organization all about making lasting memories for sick kids.
On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the national nonprofit organization Baking Memories 4 Kids gifted 4-year-old Everett Keller of Goochland County a magical trip. Thanks to Baking Memories 4 Kids, next month Everett and his parents, Anielle and Seth, and little sister, Avery, will be vacationing at Disney World.
Everett was diagnosed with acute leukemia when he was 19 months old, leading to two and a half years of treatments which included chemotherapy, lumbar punctures and steroids. Even with all he has been through, Everett’s mom, Anielle says he still loves to dance and has a huge heart and an even bigger smile.
The trip comes after his family applied for the once-in-a-lifetime experience through the organization’s website, and Anielle says being selected for the trip couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We kinda had a triple whammy,” she said. “Right before we got his diagnosis, we found out we were pregnant with baby number two. But then later that same week, he was diagnosed with cancer in late 2019. And as we all know, 2020 was consumed by COVID, so it was really hard on our family.”
Each holiday season, Baking Memories 4 Kids’ Founder Frank Squeo travels the country making families’ dreams come true. With the help of the Centerville Fire Station in Goochland, he delivered the news right to Everett’s front door.
As a cancer survivor himself, Squeo promised he would do everything he could to help heal the hearts and minds of children stricken with life-threatening illnesses and their families. His organization is dedicated to sending families on vacations to Florida theme parks, which are funded by selling containers of cookies.
“I was blessed enough to get cancer that almost killed me 15 years ago,” he said. “I was able to survive the treatments and I knew it was for a higher purpose. I can’t take away the sadness and the tears, but we can replace it with happy tears and memories”.
Everett’s family says no matter what happens in the future, for them, it’s all about being thankful.
“No matter what there’s still something you can be thankful for,” Seth, Everett’s dad, said. “Thankful for the community, for organizations like Baking Memories and opportunities that they can look forward to.”
Over the last 10 years, Baking Memories 4 Kids has awarded over 230 all-expense-paid Florida vacations to sick kids of their families. Squeo says they have to sell about 500 containers of cookies for each vacation.