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2019 ISSUE

bertsbigadventure.org

BERT'S BIG ADVENTURE e n i z ga Magical Moments... VIP Kids

, K=15 • if used as spot color, match to pantone 2070U or pantone 259C

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SUPER HEROES

YOU

KIDS' STORIES

MAGIC

OUR 2019 Told by Their Parents

CAN BE

PART OF THE

PG. 4 & 57


W

hen radio host Bert Weiss launched his popular morning radio show, The Bert Show in Atlanta in 2001, he immediately knew he wanted to use his voice to do something impactful for the community. The result was Bert’s Big Adventure. Established in 2002, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization provides a magical, all-expenses-paid, five-day journey to Walt Disney World® for children with terminal and chronic illnesses and their families. To qualify for Bert’s Big Adventure, children must be between the ages of 5 and 12, live in The Bert Show radio listening area, prove financial need and have never been to Walt Disney World. Following the annual trip, Bert’s Big Adventure provides year-round support through initiatives such as the Family Reunion Adventures, the Fairy Godparent volunteer program and additional charitable services. The trip and programs create a community of families that establish lasting friendships with others facing similar challenges.

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bertsbigadventure.org • bert's big adventure magazine 2019


CONTENTS

17 Colin 19

Adrian

Atlanta, GA

Alpharetta, GA

OUR PROGRAMS

21 Colton 25

Peyton Locust Grove, GA

Indianapolis, IN Walt Disney World Trip ................................5 Fairy Godparent Volunteer Program ...... 24 Family Reunion Adventure Program ..... 49

27 Abigail 29 Rylee

Flowery Branch, GA

OUR PARTNERS

Roswell, GA

S TA R S T E WA R D S

33 Alexander 35 Kemora

Lithia Springs, GA

Jersey Mike’s Subs.................................... 39 Dentistry for Children & Family Orthodontics .................................. 40 Gas South ................................................... 40 Moe’s Southwest Grill ............................. 47 RBM of Alpharetta .................................... 47

Hampton, GA

37 Israel 41

Ethan

North Charleston, SC

MAGIC MAKERS Endeavor Air .................................................. 9 Carter’s Charitable Foundation ..............23 Atlanta Moon Ride .....................................48 Avalon ...........................................................48 Troika Studio ...............................................48

W I S H G R A N T E R S ...........53 D R E A M B U I L D E R S .......55

Casper, WY

43 Mycah 45 Haven

Jasper, GA

Comer, GA

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BERT'S BIG ADVENTURE

Magical Moments... VIP Kids

e n i z a g a M

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief David Crawford Graphic Designer Troika Studio Inc Photographers DASH Photography / Amanda Coker dashphotography.com Sarah Esther Photography Sarahesther.com Monarch Studio / Zach Thomas Themonarchstudio.com Cassandra Young Photography Cassandra-young.com Davila Photography / Adam Davila DavilaPhotography.com Raymond Adams Imagery / Raymond Adams RaymondAdamsImagery.com Contributers Michael Birchall-Creative Director / Troika Studio Molly Darby-Executive Director / Bert’s Big Adventure Seth Ferreira-Digital Director / Troika Studio Tiffany Dowdell-Organizational Development Consultant / Bert’s Big Adventure Sheridan Smith-Program Manager / Bert’s Big Adventure Amber Moore-Communications & Social Media Manager / Bert’s Big Adventure Cara Brooks / Writer & Editor Bert Weiss-Founder and President / Bert’s Big Adventure

Dear Friends of Bert’s Big Adventure, As always, thank you so much for taking an interest in Bert’s Big Adventure. Without you, there is no memory-making escape to Walt Disney World for these families that desperately need some quality time with each other. That’s why we whisk them away and make sure every second they spend together for these five days is truly magical. Our families feel like they are on the outside looking in back home, but on Bert’s Big Adventure everybody is a rock star. Everybody is on the inside. We’re the group that jumps the line together while everyone else wonders who those special kids are. Your gifts allow our kids to feel accepted unconditionally, and give our families one-on-one time together to focus on what matters most: each other. I hope that our magazine brings the trip to life for you, and connects you to the incredible children and families that are the heart of Bert’s Big Adventure.

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_C=0, M=29, Y=72, K=0 • if used as spot color, match to pantone 1225U or pantone 1365C

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Bert Weiss, Founder

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Bert’s Big Adventure, Inc. PO Box 420917, Atlanta, GA 30342 • 678.929.8474 BertsBigAdventure.org

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THERE IS NO DONATION TOO BIG OR SMALL! • Instant Gift: • Mail-In Gift: • Gifts that Count: • Birthday Gift: • Fundraising Gift:

Make a credit card donation online now. Mail a check or money order. Give a gift in honor, memory or celebration of someone special. Ask friends and family to donate in lieu of birthday gifts. Create a personal fundraising page.

BECOME A SPONSOR!

Help Bert’s Big Adventure raise the money needed for our annual journey to Walt Disney World. Please visit bertsbigadventure.org for online donation forms and more giving information.


Countdown To

BERT’S BIG ADVENTURE Surprising families who have been selected to go on Bert’s Big Adventure’s annual trip to Walt Disney World was the perfect way to celebrate the holidays. Whether it was an invitation to “pizza and interviews” at Santa’s Fantastical or even a phone call from Bert himself, the fun began months before the magical, five-day journey. Courtesy of Gas South, all of the families got together for a pre-trip orientation at Dave & Buster’s in Marietta to meet, greet, eat dinner and ask questions. In preparation for the five-day journey to Disney, LAT Apparel provided everyone with soft, matching t-shirts and RBM of Alpharetta provided each family member with custom jackets and backpacks. Every new VIP received their very own golden key to Walt Disney World as well as a Bert’s Big Adventure countdown clock, which counted the days, hours, minutes and seconds until Bert’s Big Adventure boarded the Endeavor Air flight to Disney! Thank you Cindy Powers, 501st Legion and Rebel Legion for providing our costumed characters!

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Wednesday’s WELCOME

The countdown clocks chimed and the party kicked off on the Wednesday before our once-in-a-lifetime journey! Each of the Bert’s Big Adventure families were picked up at their homes in a private limousine and driven in true VIP style to the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel. Once the families arrived, they walked the red carpet and the magical moments began to unfold. The families were welcomed with pump-up music graciously performed by the Jonesboro High School Drumline, a delicious meal thanks to Jersey Mike’s Subs and dessert provided by Häggen-Dazs Ice Cream. The families were then given a custom set of Mickey ears from Ears of Magic by Brooke, and enjoyed a hilarious performance by Dentistry for Children’s Luna the Tooth Fairy. During dinner, Bert let the families in on a little secret: each would be treated to box springs and mattresses from Mattress Firm, a set of braces from Dentistry for Children and Family Orthodontics and carpet cleaning from Eco Tech Services! Following the giveaways, a dance party by DJ Scott Moody capped off the evening’s festivities! Wednesday’s Welcome Party gives everyone quality time with each other before the big flight down to Walt Disney World, and the excitement of the trip can be seen in the high energy of the families and kids!

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Thursday

Send-Off Celebration

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arly Thursday morning, the Bert’s Big Adventure kiddos and their families excitedly woke up in luxurious suites provided by Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel. The hotel’s ballroom was transformed into a fun-zone with festive décor, a breakfast buffet, costumed characters and troopers, kiddo-centered activities and a live broadcast of The Bert Show! Carter’s Charitable Foundation, Dentistry for Children and Family Orthodontics, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Dunkin’ Donuts, Q99.7, and many other wonderful sponsors made it a memorable morning. As an extra special treat, Jyl Craven Hair Design was on hand to pamper the families! The send-off party was full of excitement as The Bert Show unveiled extra surprises for a few of our families during the live broadcast: an ACE 150 Polaris ATV generously donated by Mountain Motorsports, a Disney Cruise graciously gifted by Gas South with trip planning by Wishdrawals, and a dream weekend trip to Talladega Superspeedway to see the NASCAR race and meet Kyle Busch thanks to Rutledge Wood and Georgia’s Own Credit Union! When Bert’s Big Adventure kiddo Haven’s mom received an on-air proposal, Solomon Brothers donated the diamond engagement ring and Sandals Resorts gifted a luxurious all-inclusive honeymoon! Bert’s Big Adventure staffers then escorted our VIPs to a private hangar. Costumed characters lined a red-carpet walkway and cheered the children on while they boarded a chartered flight courtesy of Endeavor Air. Our wonderful sponsors, partners and volunteers all joined to send off the 2019 families as they embarked on Bert’s Big Adventure’s 17th annual once-in-a-lifetime trip to Walt Disney World. Our biggest thank you to Simple Details and Balloonacy for making the ballroom look so beautiful and Cindy Powers, 501st Legion and Rebel Legion for coordinating our beloved characters!

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ENDEAVOR AIR

F

or the second year in a row, Endeavor Air has partnered with Bert’s Big Adventure to create sky high smiles on the faces of our VIP kids and their families. Endeavor Air goes to infinity and beyond in making sure our departure and return from Walt Disney World is extra special. From the aviation team members welcoming us at the hangar on a character-lined red carpet to our very own pilot princess, this is not your every day flight! We are so grateful this regional airline, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, chooses to continue being a part of the Bert’s Big Adventure family.

Thank you, Endeavor Air! 9


First Night

IN DISNEY A

fter months of anticipation, we made our journey to the happiest place on earth! The families checked into Disney’s Beach Club Resort and prepared for four days of magic. After settling in, we headed to Animal Kingdom’s Conservation Station where some very special guests joined us for dinner: Mickey and Minnie! Everyone closed out the night by exploring one of the best attractions in Disney: Pandora—The World of Avatar! Afterward, we had the awesome opportunity to ride both the Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage as a group!

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Magical FRIDAY B

right and early on Friday morning, Bert’s Big Adventure stepped onto Main Street in Magic Kingdom for VIP access to everything iconic within the park, including a frontrow view of the esteemed Cinderella Castle. To prepare for the fun day ahead, we dined on a very special breakfast buffet with Mickey Mouse shaped waffles and plenty of bacon! Highlights of the day included visits to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for princess makeovers and The Pirates League for pirate transformations! After a lively day in Magic Kingdom, we traveled to Epcot for dinner. Following a delicious meal, the families were treated to a lavish dessert and fireworks viewing party behind velvet VIP ropes in France!

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Sunshine SATURDAY

B

ert’s Big Adventure kicked off the day with a VIP ride on Disney’s Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris before the park was even open to the public! Our group encountered lions, rhinos, cheetahs, flamingos, crocodiles, elephants, zebras, and more. The kiddos worked up an appetite on the expedition so we headed to breakfast at Restaurantosaurus. There we were joined by Pluto and surprise circus performers! Our families then sat in front row seats to watch Festival of the Lion King, a Broadway-style show! The rest of the afternoon was spent riding roller coasters without waiting in line and exploring ALL the other Disney parks with our park hopper passes. Everyone gathered to eat dinner together on our own private patio while watching Fantasmic, an amazing open-air musical. After a day full of excitement, the kiddos believed we were headed for the hotel but…SURPRISE! DISNEY JUNIOR DANCE PARTY!!

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Funday

MONDAY T

he final day of Bert’s Big Adventure began bright and early on Monday morning, and our families took part in an exclusive live broadcast of The Bert Show at the ESPN Club on Disney’s Boardwalk. Many tears were shed as parents read personalized letters to their children and shared their powerful journeys with listeners around the country. Our wonderful friends at Endeavor Air once again provided a private plane for everyone to fly home together, spoiling the kiddos with custom VIP boarding passes, in-cabin Disney décor, personalized cards signed by the crew, and a delicious lunch. We arrived at the hangar for one last surprise: a spontaneous DJ dance party! Each child was also gifted a huge bin overflowing with specially selected toys donated by Kristin from The Bert Show and her husband, Bart. Before leaving, Bert reminded everyone that we are truly one big family for life! We left the trip excited to reunite with everyone from all 17 years of Bert’s Big Adventure trips at the quarterly Family Reunion Adventures!

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Adrian BARHITE AGE: 7

HOMETOWN: Atlanta, GA

DIAGNOSIS: Leukemia (ALL)

FAVORITE CHARACTER: Moana

“My daughter is my hero. Adrian’s response to fighting leukemia taught me what it’s like to move through fear and pain resiliently. Watching the Fairy Godmothers do their magic to her hair on Bert’s Big Adventure

FAVORITE MOVIE:

was a moment that really made me feel like

Cinderella & Frozen

everything was going to be OK. She had no

FAVORITE HOBBY:

hair a year ago because of her treatments,

Gymnastics

WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE: A Nurse

TRIP SOUVENIR:

Princess dress and regalia

and at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique she could be magically transformed into having a full head of hair like every other little girl. I felt like she regained a little bit of that childhood innocence and wonder.” –Angie Bryant, Adrian’s Mom

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Colin BLACK “Doctors were unable to diagnose anything during my pregnancy with Colin. He seemed fine when he was born, but the first time they moved him they broke his leg, his arm, his clavicle, and fractured three of his ribs. Testing eventually said he had osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease. I’m so glad I was given the gift of being his mom. Colin’s resilience and natural love of life is a joy that touches everyone around him. No matter how high his pain or how low his energy, Colin never gives up and always pushes through– holding his head high. Through it all, he loves making people laugh and his excitement is contagious. I hope he never stops sharing his unbreakable spirit.” –Cathy Black, Colin’s Mom

AGE: 6

HOMETOWN: Alpharetta, GA

DIAGNOSIS:

Osteogenesis Imperfecta

FAVORITE CHARACTER: Spider-Man

FAVORITE FOOD: Hot Dog & Fries

WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE: A Karate Guy

TRIP SOUVENIR:

The key to Walt Disney World that he slept with every night before the trip!

TRIP MEMORY:

Being able to experience riding rides!

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Peyton

CALLAWAY

AGE: 9

HOMETOWN: Locust Grove, GA

DIAGNOSIS:

Spinal Muscular Atrophy II

FAVORITE CHARACTER: Mickey Mouse

FAVORITE FOOD: Thanksgiving dinner, pizza & hot dogs!

“We’ve seen you struggle physically and question your own well-being, so watching your happiness take precedence above all other things this week has been more of a blessing than we could ever fathom. Son, you are our magic gift. We will always love you, one magical day at a time, because there is no greater gift than you.” – Todd Callaway, Peyton’s Dad

FAVORITE SINGER: Shawn Mendes

TRIP SOUVENIR:

Mickey Mouse plush toy

TRIP MEMORY:

Riding Dumbo at Magic Kingdom and making new friends!

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A

t their always-popular booth during this year’s send-off celebration for Bert’s Big Adventure, Carter’s Cares Club created a replica of Andy’s room from the Toy Story movies and filled it with paratroopers, monkeys in a barrel, and Woody’s Saloon. A charitable communal program piloted by Carter’s Inc. in 2011, Carter’s Cares Club continued their annual Bert’s Big Adventure tradition of building a grandiose booth that matches the theme of choice. Their joyful and creative volunteers topped themselves this year with an immersive Toy Story-themed experience. Embellished with the iconic blue sky and cloud wallpaper, replica movie posters and costume cutouts of Woody and Buzz Lightyear for photo-ops, the booth created excitement and anticipation for the five-day journey to Walt Disney World. The creativity, time and thoughtfulness that goes into creating such an impressive booth perfectly illustrates the relationship

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between Carter’s Charitable Foundation and Bert’s Big Adventure. The Atlanta-based children’s apparel retailer first partnered with Bert’s Big Adventure in 2010, making it the nonprofit’s longest-tenured partnership. Since then, the dynamic duo has been fulfilling its ongoing mission of building strong and thriving environments for children through the unwavering support of family and community. Carter’s Charitable Foundation, alongside Bert’s Big Adventure, continues to positively impact lives through the Fairy Godparent volunteer program pioneered in 2010. They are also avid donors of the annual Walt Disney World journey as well as the quarterly Family Reunion Adventures. The Fairy Godparent program allows Carter’s associates to volunteer with Bert’s Big Adventure kids during their stay at hospitals. Fairy Godparents bring joy and endless support in the form of food, toys, activities and blissful conversations to lift the spirits of each child and their family.


The Fairy Godparent volunteer program is one of the four programs provided by Bert’s Big Adventure to the families it serves. Any time a Bert’s Big Adventure child is admitted to a partner hospital, they receive a daily visit from a Fairy Godparent volunteer. Sponsored by the Carter’s Charitable Foundation, in 2018 this program engaged more than 100 volunteers who collectively logged more than 270 hours of hospital time visiting with Bert’s Big Adventure kids and their family members. Bert's Big Adventure volunteers brighten their days by bringing a delicious meal, which allows a much-needed break from hospital food. Entertainment is also provided with small activities such as crafts, games or even manicures for the girls. For the parents, the nearly 2,000 volunteer visits since the program’s inception also present a helping hand, offering them a moment of relief to leave the child’s side to take a shower, send an email update or take a much-needed break. With a wave of their magic wands, the volunteers of the Fairy Godparent program provide much-needed support and companionship to the families of children who are facing insurmountable odds. To learn more, visit bertsbigadventure.org.

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Colton DARST AGE: 6

HOMETOWN: Indianapolis, IN

DIAGNOSIS:

Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMP)

FAVORITE FOOD:

Buffalo Wild Wings Mild Boneless or Bacon

FAVORITE TV SHOW: Supernatural

TRIP SOUVENIR: All my new friends!

NEW BEST FRIEND: Bert!

TRIP MEMORY:

Being able to ride roller coasters for the first time!

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“Colton endured all of this before the age of 7: nine surgeries, countless leg castings, numerous falls resulting in bumps, bruises, black eyes, broken bones and concussions. He completely re-learned how to walk not once or twice, but three times. And yet he never complains. Instead he’s always telling jokes and making everyone smile. He faces challenges and obstacles head on and defeats them like any great superhero would. Colton is our superhero.” – Amber Darst, Colton’s Mom

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RyleeDURHAM

“Rylee, the day you were born was happy but also

AGE: 7

After 18 days, we got to go home and start the

HOMETOWN:

journey we are on now. It has been an uphill battle

Flowery Branch, GA

since you were born, but we wouldn’t change it one

DIAGNOSIS:

bit. Getting diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder

Cardiofaciocutaneous (CFC) Syndrome

is life altering. You think not knowing what is wrong

FAVORITE FOOD:

with your kid is bad, but it’s even more scary when

FAVORITE MOVIE:

nobody else knows either. It is scary to know there

Ramen Noodles Cars

FAVORITE SPORT: Anything NASCAR!

TRIP SOUVENIR: Safari Mickey

TRIP MEMORY:

Meeting Mickey & Minnie

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scary. Doctors immediately rushed you to the NICU.

your doctors tell you they don’t know and that is no cure, but we rest in knowing God has you in His hands. You are a blessing to us and our family. Thank you for teaching us patience and love that only the parents of a special needs child will understand. We love you and are glad to call you ours.” – Kelly Durham, Rylee’s Mom

bertsbigadventure.org bertsbigadventure.org• •bert's magical big moments adventuremagazine magazine2018 2019


bertsbigadventure.org bertsbigadventure.org• •bert's magical big moments adventuremagazine magazine2018 2019

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Abigail AGE:

JOHNSON

7

HOMETOWN: Roswell, GA

DIAGNOSIS:

Spina bifida, Down syndrome, shunted hydrocephalus

FAVORITE SONG: Let It Go

FAVORITE SINGER/ BAND: Anna & Elsa

FAVORITE FOOD: Goldfish Crackers

TRIP MEMORY:

Becoming a Princess at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the Disney Jr. Dance Party!

TRIP DREAM COME TRUE:

Swimming in a pool of Goldfish crackers!

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“Every now and then, I look at Abby and remember how far she’s come. That her life started with a month long stay in NICU. That she used to be on oxygen and an apnea monitor every night. That at 3 years old she was still bottle-fed. That at 4 years old she finally started walking only to promptly break her foot. That she’s the only person we can find that has both Down syndrome and spina bifida. Not to mention the countless surgeries, ER visits, sleep studies, MRI’s, and therapies. So sometimes I look at her and all those things she has endured come rushing back, and it fills my heart with joy for where she is today. I had one of those moments on Bert’s Big Adventure during the Disney Jr. dance party. I was just so happy that I couldn’t stop crying.” – Claire Johnson, Abby’s Mom

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THESE SMILES MADE POSSIBLE BY YOU! Adams Family Foundation Alternative Apparel Atlanta Moon Ride Atlanta Santa Speedo Run Avalon Noon to Night Fashion Show Balloonacy Atlanta BB&T Atlanta Open California Pizza Kitchen CapTech Carter’s Charitable Foundation Cassandra Young Photography Cobb County Police Department

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Crane Nuclear Philanthropic Fund Dave & Buster’s Dash Photography Dean Crownover Del Frisco’s Dentistry for Children Family Orthodontics Dantanna's Digital Dash 5k One Digital Health & Benefits Dunkin' Donuts Eco Tech Services Endeavor Air Eversheds Sutherland Fernbank Museum

Fur Bus Gas South Georgia Association of Student Councils Georgia DECA Georgia’s Own Credit Union Grip Top Restoration Häggen-Dazs Hudson Grille Insurance House Jersey Mike’s Subs Jett Business Technology Jocoba Marketing JYL Craven Hair Design Keller Williams of Woodstock

Thank You to bertsbigadventure.org • bert's big adventure magazine 2019


Kevin & Cindy Powers Lat Apparel Life Time Athletic Live! At The Battery Maggiano’s Little Italy Mattress Firm Moe’s Southwest Grill Monarch Studio Mountain Motorsports Physicians Alliance of America PLUS Foundation PomumPro Powerhouse Dance Center Primrose School of Suwanee West Primrose School of Peachtree

Corners Proof of the Pudding Q99.7 RBM of Alpharetta Rebel Legion Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel Rising Roll Gourmet Café RSM US LLP Sandals Resorts Santa at Phipps Phipps Plaza Santa's Fantastical Sarah Esther Photography Simple Details

Solomon Brothers Fine Jewelry Temporary Accommodations TA Cares The Brown Firm The Color Spot The Grainger Foundation Tito's Handmade Vodka Triad Mechanical Troika Studio Unique Event Elements Universal Roofing & Construction Wishdrawals 501st Legion

Our Sponsors! bertsbigadventure.org • bert's big adventure magazine 2019

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Kemora LESLIE AGE: 8

HOMETOWN: Lithia Springs, GA

DIAGNOSIS:

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome

Doctors diagnosed her when I was five months pregnant and asked me about terminating the baby before birth because they didn’t think she’d

FAVORITE TV SHOW

make it. I insisted on having my child.

CELEBRITY I’D LIKE TO MEET:

opened her heart right in front of me to

Ellen Degeneres

Raven-Symoné

FAVORITE MOVIE:

Immediately after she was born, they perform surgery. I was told she would only live two weeks. After surviving

Cinderella

three 'code red' death scares, she is

FAVORITE HOBBIES:

now 8 years old. Kemora is a walking

Gymnastics, dancing & beat-boxing

TRIP MEMORY:

Meeting Cinderella and becoming a Princess!

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“Kemora wasn’t supposed to live.

miracle. She is my Princess, my joy, my happiness, my rock, my heaven.” – Kerry Ann McAnuff, Kemora’s Mom

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bertsbigadventure.org • bert's big adventure magazine 2019

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Alexander MUNOZ AGE: 12

HOMETOWN: Hampton, GA

DIAGNOSIS:

ARC Syndrome, Gray platelet syndrome & bilateral profound hearing loss

FAVORITE CHARACTER:

me I’d never know what was wrong with my son, so they started calling his illness 'The Alex Syndrome.' When Alex was 18 months old, a doctor said he had good news and bad news. The good news was they finally had a name for what was causing all his issues: ARC syndrome. The

Mickey Mouse

bad news? There was no cure, no treatment and

FAVORITE SPORT:

a life expectancy of 24 months. There were less

Playing baseball at Hope Park!

FAVORITE SONG:

Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)

FAVORITE FOOD: Shrimp

TRIP MEMORY:

Becoming a trained Jedi!

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“The doctors got to the point that they told

than one hundred known cases at the time, and only one other that we know of who has also survived. Alex is now 12 years old, and it is God’s blessing to be his mom in this life. He inspires me to keep going even when I don’t think I can.” – Carmen Munoz, Alex’s Mom

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bertsbigadventure.org • bert's big adventure magazine 2019

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Ethan NGUYEN AGE: 10

HOMETOWN:

North Charleston, SC

DIAGNOSIS: Leukemia (ALL)

FAVORITE CHARACTER: Mickey Mouse

FAVORITE TV SHOW: YouTube

"It started out with every parent’s worst nightmare: I took you to the emergency room for leg pains and found out you have leukemia. No one should ever go through what you have since the diagnosis, and you still manage to have a positive attitude while making people laugh. You are the strongest and bravest

FAVORITE MOVIE:

person I know. I love you so much, and I

FAVORITE HOBBY:

my everything."

YouTube Fishing

TRIP MEMORY:

am so proud of you. You are my heart... – Kim Nguyen, Ethan’s Mom

Riding the rollercoasters!

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JERSEY MIKE'S SUBS

B

ert’s Big Adventure sure does feel loved and supported by our friends at Jersey Mike’s Subs! Thanks to a huge effort put forth by franchisees and staff, 43 Atlanta, Macon and Columbus Jersey Mike’s locations participated in their annual Day of Giving on Wednesday March 27, 2019. Davi and Moe from The Bert Show raced each other all day to see who could visit more stores to say thank you in person to all the generous sub-eaters and staff supporting us. Each location gave 100 percent of their sales to Bert’s Big Adventure, and altogether this year they raised more than $189,000! Jersey Mike’s annual Month of Giving campaign raises millions of dollars for local charities nationwide and we are so grateful for their generosity. They are truly changing lives “Mike’s Way”: one sub at a time! Thank you, Jersey Mike’s!

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bertsbigadventure.org • bert's big adventure magazine 2019


GAS SOUTH

G

as South, one of the Southeast’s leading natural gas providers, proved its commitment to Bert’s Big Adventure throughout the last two years by donating more than $125,000! They truly live out their mission to “Be a Fuel for Good” in the community through their financial support and so much more. When Gas South heard the story of 2019 Bert’s Big Adventure kiddo Alex Munoz and his family, they were so moved they gave another $10,000 to send them on a bonus Disney Cruise! We are beyond grateful that they have become an integrated partner with our families. We love you, Gas South!

DENTISTRY FOR CHILDREN & FAMILY ORTHODONTICS

D

entistry for Children and Family Orthodontics are making a difference in our Bert’s Big Adventure kids’ lives one smile at a time! In just five years of the Project Smile campaign, Dentistry for Children and Family Orthodontics in Atlanta and Charleston have raised more than $415,000 for Bert’s Big Adventure. Their giving doesn’t stop there: they also sponsored our Fall Reunion Adventure, provided fun activities with Luna the Tooth Fairy at our send-off celebration and donated one set of braces to each incoming Bert’s Big Adventure Family. We are grateful that they love putting smiles on our kiddos’ faces as much as we do!

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Israel PHENI “Issy, you don’t need to speak with words because you communicate on a higher level: you just live from your heart. Watching you enjoy Disney World was a tremendous experience. You always wear your heart on your sleeve, your smile lights up a room, and your laugh is pure joy. We heard a lot of that laugh this week on Bert’s Big Adventure! I don’t think you know it, but you have a gift and you are a gift: you uplift people around you. People always lift you and carry you where you need to go and that’s OK, but you lift people up by drawing us into your joy. And our world is better because you’re in it. Not just at Disney World, but every day. I love you, sweet boy.” – Holly Pheni, Israel’s Mom

AGE: 8

HOMETOWN: Casper, WY

DIAGNOSIS: Polymicrogyria

FAVORITE MUSIC: Marching Band

FAVORITE FOOD: Tacos & Spaghetti

FAVORITE CHARACTER: Lightning McQueen

TRIP SOUVENIR:

Plush banshee to remember riding Avatar over and over!

TRIP MEMORY:

Being able to get onto immersive rides like Avatar: Flight of Passage and Soarin’

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Haven SIMS AGE: 8

“When I gave birth to Haven, doctors took her from me

HOMETOWN:

before I got to hold her. She was born without a rectum, had

DIAGNOSIS:

They’ve since given her many diagnoses with names I can’t

Jasper, GA

VACTERL Association, Polysplenia syndrome, Hirschsprung’s disease, cardiac issues, kidney disease, hearing loss

a tethered spinal cord and her toes were fused together. even pronounce, and she’s had more surgeries, procedures, and therapies than I can count. On Mother’s Day in 2017, Haven’s heart stopped. She

FAVORITE BAND:

went from laughing and playing, to seemingly gone. Her

Imagine Dragons

lips were blue and her eyes rolled back. I did CPR until the

FAVORITE HOBBY:

ambulance arrived and in route to the hospital. Her brain

Dancing

went without oxygen for more than an hour and she was

NEW BEST FRIEND:

unconscious, living on machines, for more than 24 hours.

Kristin

I was told she would never walk and never talk, but we

TRIP SOUVENIR:

don’t like the word ‘never’ in our house. People say that God

Beauty and the Beast ball gown!

TRIP MEMORY:

Sunday Pool Party with Kristin!

only gives kids with special needs to His strongest, but the truth is He gives little superheroes to parents who need them. I truly believe Haven is my little superhero.” –Jessica Sims, Haven’s Mom

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Mycah WALLACE “Mycah, you inspire us so much and make us want to be better people. You show us every day what strength is, and no matter how rough things get you smile through it. Even though you are going through so much, you are always thinking about others. Whether it was the cancer treatments, inpatient hospital visits, fevers, low blood counts, or missing your brother and sister, you encouraged me through it all and let me know that it was going to be OK. You gave me strength that I didn’t know I had. Always remember that love is the greatest strength and we are in this together, forever. Never forget that." – Steven Wallace, Mycah’s Dad

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AGE: 5

HOMETOWN: Comer, GA

DIAGNOSIS: Leukemia (ALL)

FAVORITE CHARACTER: Mickey Mouse

FAVORITE FOOD: Pizza

FAVORITE MOVIE: The Incredibles

FAVORITE HOBBY: Playing outside!

TRIP SOUVENIR:

Mickey Mouse bubble wand!

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MOE’S SOUTHWEST GRILL

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oe’s Southwest Grill was rocking and rolling burritos again this year to make generous contributions to Bert’s Big Adventure. For the 7th consecutive year, more than 70 Atlanta-area Moe’s donated 10 percent of their net sales every Wednesday in June! In June of 2019, Moe’s raised $80,000, thanks to our awesome quesoloving community! This donation will help us create so many magical moments on our all-expenses-paid, five-day journey to Walt Disney World. Thank you, Moe’s!

RBM OF ALPHARETTA

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he generous RBM of Alpharetta sped into Star Steward status in 2018 with their contribution of a 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 to Bert’s Big Adventure to be raffled to our community of spirited supporters. All 1,500 raffle tickets were sold! We are so thankful for RBM of Alpharetta. The money raised makes a huge impact and difference in the lives of the families we serve. Thank you RBM of Alpharetta!

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AVALON NOON TO NIGHT FASHION SHOW

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n the 4th annual Noon to Night Fashion Show held on September 13, 2018 at Avalon in Alpharetta, the Bert’s Big Adventure kiddos got the amazing opportunity to strut their stuff on the runway alongside professional and celebrity models in clothing from Avalon retailers. The event raised more than $70,000 for Bert’s Big Adventure! We are so appreciative of Avalon for putting on this fantastic event every year!

ATLANTA MOON RIDE, PRESENTED BY CAPTECH

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n June 21, 2019, nearly 4,000 bike-riders gathered for the 7th year in a row at Piedmont Park to ride in the moonlight through the coolest streets of Atlanta. Proceeds from the event once again benefited Bert’s Big Adventure. Special thanks to all the countless volunteers, amazing sponsors and costumed riders. The Atlanta Moon Ride raised more than $40,000 for Bert’s Big Adventure!

TROIKA STUDIO

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he generosity of Troika Studio plays a major part in the visual elements seen by Bert’s Big Adventure fans and supporters. Troika builds and maintains our website, designs our publications such as our annual magazine, and puts together our amazing videography! We are beyond grateful they are a part of our Bert's Big Adventure family! Check out our Bert’s Big Adventure YouTube channel as well as www.bertsbigadventure.org to see some of their amazing work!

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en ts ... VI M ag ic al M om

P Fa m ili es

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ollowing the annual trip, Bert's Big Adventure strives to further strengthen its established community and friendships by hosting quarterly family reunion adventures. The exclusive and unique events provide our families with year-round opportunities to enjoy more VIP experiences and intimate family time away from doctor visits and hospital stays.

nt s.. .VI Ma gi ca l Mo me

P Fa mi lie s

T

hanks to our amazing sponsor Gas South, nearly 450 Bert’s Big Adventure family members (a new record!) gathered together for a DINOMITE evening at Fernbank Museum for the first Reunion Adventure of 2019. The kiddos loved exploring all the fun interactive exhibits, and capped off the night with a movie screening in the four-story-tall IMAX theater. Our friends at Proof of the Pudding provided a delicious meal complete with CocaCola smoked brisket and milk & cookies. DJ Jobe Gruber brought the best kidfriendly tunes for our quarterly dance party. A special shout out to Cindy Powers, 501st Legion, and Rebel Legion for providing everyone's favorite costume characters.

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Summer Reunion

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ert’s Big Adventure families enjoyed some fun in the sun at the Summer Reunion Adventure. Nearly 325 family members gathered together for a VIP pool party at Life Time Athletic in Sandy Springs. Our friends at Gas South graciously sponsored this memorable day for our kiddos, and even surprised everyone with custom Bert’s Big Adventure purple tumblers to take home. Our families enjoyed a delicious grill-out served by Chef Luca of Maggiano’s Perimeter as well as refreshing King of Pops sweet treats. It wouldn’t be a reunion without a dance party and DJ Willie T (aka Tommy from The Bert Show!) provided the perfect soundtrack for our three-hour swim!

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B

Fall Reunion

ert’s Big Adventure kiddos and families enjoyed some playful, competitive fun at our Fall Reunion Adventure. For the second year in a row, our dear friends at Dentistry for Children and Family Orthodontics generously sponsored an afternoon of games at Dave & Buster's in Marietta. Our families, joined by Bert’s Big Adventure staff and volunteers, enjoyed unlimited access to gaming classics, entertainment, and a delicious meal complete with a dessert bar. Bert’s Big Adventure family members loved gathering together for our game-day!

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amily members enjoyed celebrating the season together during our Holiday Reunion Adventure at Phipps Plaza’s Court of the South. Santa at Phipps graciously treated each kiddo and their family with a visit and a complimentary photo package to treasure for a lifetime. The Phipps Plaza team generously provided enough space to catch up with our besties while still being able to break out into our customary dance party! Maggiano’s at Perimeter catered a delicious seasonal spread for everyone to enjoy, and our wonderful partners at Carter’s Charitable Foundation sent volunteers to assist the kiddos in crafting personalized holiday mugs and ornaments.

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wishgranters Thank You to Our Generous Wish Granter Sponsors for Granting the Walt Disney World Wishes of Our Bert’s Big Adventure Kids and Their Families Each Year!

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wishgranters

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dreambuilders Thank You to Our Generous Dream Builder Sponsors for Making Dreams Come True for Our Bert’s Big Adventure Kids and Their Families Every Year!

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dreambuilders

services NORTHWEST GEORGIA’S NORTHWEST SURFACE SPECIALISTS SPECIALISTS SURFACE

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Be Part

Magic of the

THIS ALL-EXPENSESPAID JOURNEY WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF THE BERT SHOW LISTENING COMMUNITY. DONATIONS AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT BY VARIOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS ARE ESSENTIAL IN CONTINUING NOT JUST THE BERT’S BIG ADVENTURE TRIP TO WALT DISNEY WORLD, BUT THE MANY ADDITIONAL WAYS THE ORGANIZATION ASSISTS THE SELECTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES.

NOMINATE A CHILD Children may be nominated or may apply for the Bert's Big Adventure trip by filling out a nomination form or a confidential application. Bert's Big Adventure serves children with chronic and terminal illnesses between the ages of 5 and 12 years old who live in The Bert Show radio listening area, prove financial need and have never been to Walt Disney World. Applications are available on the organization's website: bertsbigadventure.org.

MAKE A DONATION Contributions can be either monetary or through fulfillments of the Bert’s Big Adventure “Wish List.” Information on both can be found at bertsbigadventure.org.

BECOME A SPONSOR Bert’s Big Adventure has multiple sponsorship and marketing opportunities available. Organizations wishing to participate should visit bertsbigadventure.org or call 678.929.8474.

VOLUNTEER Bert’s Big Adventure has several volunteer oportunities, from becoming a Fairy Godparent volunteer to helping at many of our fundraising events! Visit bertsbigadventure.org or call 678.929.8474 for more information!

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JATIANA Jatiana Hunt, 24 years old, passed away on Thursday, February 28th, after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in January 2019. Jatiana went to Walt Disney World with Bert’s Big Adventure in 2007.

“Jatiana and her family were a true Bert’s Big Adventure family. She was just a child when she joined our family in 2007. And for 12 years, she and her family immersed themselves in Bert’s Big Adventure. Her warm smile, kindness, and sense of ease will always be what I remember about her.” -Bert Weiss

. u o Y s s i We M

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“What I remember most about Jatiana is how much she cared for the people around her and how selfless she was. When we went to Disney in 2007 it was one of the coldest trips we ever had and Jatiana kept offering her jacket to others. I will always remember what a happy, optimistic, and loving person Jatiana was. We are all better people for knowing a beautiful spirit like Jatiana. Thank you for your love and friendship. We all will miss Jatiana so much.” -Nurse Cathy Robinson

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Thank You

TO ALL OF OUR GENEROUS SUPPORTERS FOR MAKING THESE MAGICAL MOMENTS POSSIBLE!

Profile for Bert's Big Adventure

Bert's Big Adventure Magazine - 2019  

Established in 2002, Bert’s Big Adventure is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides a magical, all-expenses-paid, five-day journey...

Bert's Big Adventure Magazine - 2019  

Established in 2002, Bert’s Big Adventure is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides a magical, all-expenses-paid, five-day journey...

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