Sunshine Kids Visit Schlitterbahn Every Summer
Marycameron Carroll, Assistant Director of Children’s Services, Sunshine Kids Foundation
With butterflies in their stomachs, Sunshine Kid teens step off the plane in Austin unsure of what the next week in the Texas Hill Country will hold for them.
Teenage cancer patients from all across the nation are brought together for a week to take a break from their hospital stays and treatment routine and have an experience unlike any other with kids who are fighting the same tough battle. One week every June, twenty-eight of these brave kids travel down south for the Texas Hill Country Adventure. Silence and hesitant smiles mark the first day as everyone becomes acquainted with the staff, volunteer team, and their fellow Sunshine Kids. However, little time passes before laughter and once-in-a-lifetime experiences build bonds of lifetime friendships.
One of the highlights of the trip is the day spent at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels. Prior to entering the park the Kids discuss the different water and amusement parks they’ve been to. However, once they step inside the gates and take a ride down the Master Blaster they realize why Schlitterbahn is known as one of the nation’s most popular water parks. Nothing compares to the wide-eyed amazement of experiencing the thrill of exploring the expansive park with new friends who know exactly what you’re going through.
Although Sunshine Kids brings their own staff and volunteers, it is so comforting to remember that at every turn of the river there are Schlitterbahn staff members who have the kid’s best interest in mind. Knowing that everyone is closely watched and diligently protected puts the medical chaperones and Sunshine Kids staff at ease and makes for a stress-free day. The Schlitterbahn staff goes above and beyond to make the day most special for every teen and for that the Foundation is so grateful.
At the end of the day, everyone is sleeping on the bus on the way home, exhausted from the day spent under the Texas sun sliding down water pipelines, twirling out of tube chutes, and floating down the lazy river. Memories are made at Schlitterbahn that will never be forgotten.