Youngsters Matt and Alexandra Pearl were elated to complete a dive in the Cayman Islands at the Lobster Pot Dive Centre.
“Both the children have a very rare blood disorder called Fanconi Anemia,” said mum Diane Pearl. “It is life threatening, average age expectation is 24.6 years so this is a dream trip for them, one of two left on their bucket list. My husband, Mark, and I were certified with Off the Wall Divers in 2000 and we have talked to them about it ever since. This was a rare opportunity to get in touch with Emily and Tom Shropshire, who had the passion and the grace to make it happen.”
Also involved in making this dream come true, she said, were Emily Harris and Patrick Weir, of Deep Blue Divers.
On a mission
The 15-year-old Matt is on a mission to find a cure for the disease, she said. In 2011, he raised $22,000 and was subsequently given a government medal of honour.
“He’s raised $10,000 this year so far; Alex [who turns 17 years old on 6 April] is always there behind the scenes folding brochures. Worldwide, there are only 300 families [with kids with Fanconi Anemia] and to have two kids with it is one in sixteen million chance.
“To get to dive is absolutely priceless,” Mrs. Pearl said.
Matt said that he was excited about getting to dive.
“We want to see a sea snake. We only arrived at 10am on a cruise ship, but we will be back,” he said. The family is from St. Louis, Missouri, but Mrs. Pearl said they had already fallen in love with the Cayman Islands back in 2000 and would love to live here. Mr. Shropshire of Off the Wall Divers said that the dive went well.
“The kids had an unbelievable time,” he said. “Smiles abound. Alexandra was elated. When I dropped them back at the cruise ship, dad hugged me and she said, ‘We’ll be returning to Cayman – thanks for making dreams come true.’”
To find out more about Fanconi Anemia, e-mail [email protected]