Dave traveled to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., flying on a jet and staying in a hotel for the first time in his life. He loved every minute of it, especially eating out at the restaurants.
“I want to move there. I didn’t want to come back,” Dave said, flashing his trademark smile.
Dave, who attends ADEC’s adult day program for seniors, spent three days at the Florida resort, accompanied by Deb Gregory, his case coordinator in ADEC’s Supported Living program.
ADEC’s mission is to serve people with developmental and cognitive disabilities so they live lives full of choice and possibility. Dave always wanted to take a vacation, but just needed someone to show him it was possible.
“We were just talking one day, and Dave indicated he’d never been on a vacation before,” said Stacy Bieber, another of Dave’s staff. “So I asked him, ‘If you could go anywhere, where would you like to go?’ He said, ‘Disney World.’”
The two visited a local travel agency, and the plans took shape.
A few months later, Dave was on his way, flying from South Bend, IN to Orlando, Fla. on Nov. 27. He skipped visiting the Magic Kingdom because he thought there would be “too many kids,” choosing instead to focus on the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney, which shimmered at night with lights. Dave ate dinner at House of Blues and even squeezed in a little time for shopping, buying his girlfriend a Minnie Mouse keychain. But no Mickey Mouse ears for himself. “I forgot,” he said. “And I ran out of money.”
For being brave enough to venture out of his comfort zone, Dave received a Dare to Dream Award at ADEC’s 2013 Annual Dinner.
He celebrated his 74th birthday Dec. 13, happy to be living his dreams and excited about the year ahead.
So where will he go next?
“Las Vegas,” he said.