Organization offers children a break from living with chronic illness

A volunteer organization is offering sick children and young adults the chance to ‘get away from it all,’ by sending them on medically-supervised vacations across the country.

Kids of Courage, founded in 2008, hosts week-long trips throughout the year to locations such as Los Angeles, Florida and Vermont.  The trips are free of charge to the children who qualify to go.

“The sicker [the children] are, the more likely they are to be accepted into the program,” Dr. Stuart Ditchek, co-founder and medical director of Kids of Courage, told  “We accept kids who are either chronically ill or have end-stage diseases.”

The program is able to support various treatments the children may be receiving, such as infusions, dialysis and even ventilator support.  A medical staff accompanies the children on the trips, including physicians, nurses and trained volunteers.

“The total group is about 400 people [including approximately 100 children and 300 medical support staff],” Ditchek said, adding that each child has one to two medical counselors accompanying them.

But the parents are left at home, Ditchek added. He said this way, the whole family has a chance to de-stress and re-charge.

“The best impact we’ve noticed is kids get sick less on the trips than they do at home,” Ditchek said. “…The kids are happier, and we believe that their immune systems work better, and they feel better.”

Kids of Courage relies on the philanthropy of corporations and individual donors, according to Ditchek.  If you would like to donate or volunteer, visit