Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hurricane Rina, Marriot Resort Marco Island Beach Music Festival with Casey Weston a Gift to Mailia's Miracle

Have you ever found yourself at the front door of an incoming Hurricane?  Watching computer models on the news and hurricane center’s web site made for some interesting times while we were sitting tight in Bonita Springs.

October 28th…was a Friday and we decided early that morning to take a drive over to Sanibel and Captiva Islands which are famous in south Florida for having some of the best sea shelling around.  Mailia was forever asking…”can we go to the beach today”?  So today…after getting a raving recommendation from Nancy at Regenocyte to hit the beaches at Sanibel…we loaded up our little rental car with oxygen, snacks…and plenty of towels and bags for our shellacious booty!

Is there such a word...Shellacious?

Oh well…when we left Bonita Springs to head north…it was very overcast and wouldn’t you know it…the rain started as soon as we started across a long causeway heading straight for the Island.  We made a pit stop at a local visitor center and got some directions to an accessible “handicap” beach for Mailia’s wheelchair. 

We did not stay too long, as it was quite apparent the weather was taking a turn for the worse.  We hustled, both Max and I to comb the beach for shells while Mailia sat amused by a little hermit crab who would not give up his residence for anything.

She was in heaven!~

Beachcombing on the verge of a monsoon...

Heading back to our wonderful warm condo…pinching ourselves daily at how blessed and grateful we are to Nahla and her parents for affording us such a wonderful place to stay, we were thrilled to get back to watch the final game 7 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals…and what a game, that turned out to be…what a finale!

All three of us were rooting for both teams but alas…the Cards took it. Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals! You are a deserving champion and David Freese is a deserving World Series MVP!!!

After the game…we looked out the back patio and could hear and see the downpour from the remnants of Hurricane Rina, and wondered if our plans for tomorrow Friday…would be a total wash. You see, two weeks before we left our home in Pasco, we found out that Casey Weston was to be a feature performer at the Marco Island Beach Music Festival on October 29th…the eve before our departure to the Dominican Republic for Mailia’s stem cell transplant.

Kelly Drouin, the Director of the Alliance…Mailia’s nonprofit, had been given charge by Max, Mailia and I to spearhead any fundraising that we could do, or help her with…during our stay in south Florida. One idea came to see if there would be a way Mailia could participate in the festival by representing the Alliance in some way, but unfortunately, we missed the deadline to have a booth because all their vendor space had already been committed.

In speaking with Jada Shigley who is the Director of Reservations for the Marco Island Marriot Resort and lead for the festival, Kelly and I were able to work on some options for Mailia and when we got word what those options were…we or I should say…Mailia went ballistic with excitement and happiness!~

After reading and hearing about Mailia’s story and journey, it was like the Make-A-Wish troops fell into place at the Marriot Resort, only it was Jada and her staff…that made this wish for Mailia, to see Casey Weston…a reality and a dream come true. She and the Marriot Resort gifted Mailia a beautiful Penthouse suite overlooking the event!

Friday morning came…the sun was out and not a cloud in the sky….but boy howdy, the pond in the back of the condo had rose over a foot from the deluge of Rina. We had heard on the news that morning that Naples had gotten over 4 inches of rain which constituted a lot of flooding for Collier County.

No matter…we had our sights set on packing our bags and readying ourselves for our departure that afternoon to Marco Island, a beautiful drive and a gorgeous part of the gulf and southern Florida….and extremely relieved that we would be out of harms way now, with no worries about the storm vying for the Caribbean or the Dominican Republic. Another thanks, to God and our guardian angels for continued protection on our journey. A truly humbling time for us.

We found the Marriot and checked in to our suite, not before taking a taste of French desserts being flambe’ed and crafted by a wonderful chef…down in the lobby. We looked for Jada but she was busy putting out fires as you would not believe the condition she found the beach and stage front that morning.  She was frantic…thinking how in the world would they be able to pull off the event with so much water and flooding from the night before. 
Another miracle in the making…she and her staff did a remarkable job and by afternoon…the beach was impeccable and ready for people to rock!~

Jada sent us these before pictures…and we snapped the after ones for you to compare…now tell me God shows no mercy. This truly humbled us…

Before photos above...Saturday morning and Below...just a few hours later...Transformation!~

The Princess charriot arrives....
We got Mailia into her wheelchair and proceeded down to the beach area where we found we could “exchange” her conventional wheelchair for a “Beach Ready” wheelchair so we could push her easily along the beach.  We were all so very fascinated by the beauty of this incredibly gorgeous area…white sandy beaches, sea shells everywhere, birds…hundreds of birds and oh the beautiful horizon and setting sun that afternoon, right after a hurricane or tropical depression is one to behold.

More gratitude and love…what can I say.  We were so relieved in knowing that Mailia was going to be okay now.  We learned to have so much faith and trust…and to just get out of the way!~
We found an beachside bistro, Quinn’s right adjacent to the stage and were graciously seated right to the side of the stage where Mailia could watch for Casey Weston who would be performing shortly. By this time we were starving and decided to order dinner while waiting for Kelly Drouin to come join us. Yum…tropical island food, breathtaking ocean views and sunset.

How Mailia came to know and admire Casey Weston was also through an unusual turn of events. You see, Greg Finely from Regenocyte had asked us last summer to please go online and vote for Casey who was in a competition on The Voice reality TV show. We did…and also were adamant to come to Casey’s defense when we heard some folks not liking the choice of song she had chosen to perform on the Voice… “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”. Please click on this as it will take you to the video we created for both Mailia and Casey…one we hope you will like and share.

So hence…the connection.  Our dinner came…as did Kelly and we were all enthralled with seeing Casey up on stage…the acoustics and view…perfect!
I excused myself and went to go up towards the front of the stage so I could get some pictures of Casey for Mailia. Lots of pictures and some video but then came the cool and gutsy gal sitting next to us, Kelly…getting up out of her chair, with half a taco crammed in her mouth saying…I will be right back, I am going to go get some things for Mailia!
And boy did she!~ She went to the table where Casey was sitting with her mom Toni, signing autographs on her CD’s and posters and told her Mailia was here and wanted to know if she could see her. Casey without batting an eye…excused herself from her fans as Kelly grabbed her arm and lead the way to find Mailia.

Mailia and Casey met and hugged and had so much love to exchange…the energy between the two was miraculous and so very healing.  Can’t quite compare Casey to Winter and Panama the dolphins from Mailia’s encounter…but she comes pretty darn close!

Casey gave Mailia a copy of her first CD, Casey Weston and two beautiful posters Mailia now treasures.  Casey…thank you so much sweetie, you have filled Mailia’s heart with so much happiness and joy with your love and generosity.  We look forward to seeing you do great things and above all…being happy in your chosen path.  Mailia will see you again…this we are sure of!
Nine o’clock was cut-off time for Mailia…we could tell she was getting a little tired and we still had to get her back to the room where she could shower and get ready for a good nights rest, for we would need to be up by 4a.m. and out the front door of the Marriot by 5a.m. so as to make our noon flight in Miami to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Max stayed to watch the Landsharks perform, a band like the Beach Boys only more Caribbean and Jimmy Buffet style, also the fireworks off of the beach which Mailia and I missed.  No problem, Mailia collapsed from exhaustion in a beautiful bed and I took advantage of a nice hot Jacuzzi bath…there was no way I was just going to look at it…well…would you?

We were so very grateful and appreciative of this incredible gift given to Mailia this day. If you ever find yourselves in south Florida…you must visit the Marco Island Marriot Resort. I know we will be back some day…it is truly paradise!...

Thank you Jada…thank you Kelly, and thank you Casey. An amazing experience…so far, Mailia is batting a 100 on this journey…now if Max and I can just relax and not worry about her and her upcoming stem cell transplant , life would be great!~

Next blog post…Mailia’s stay and procedure in the Dominican Republic.

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