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Bittersweet

Three days ago we arrived as virtual strangers, and now we are saying goodbye to wonderful friends.

There is no doubt everyone involved in this 2011 Disney Legacy Retreat, from staff and volunteers to family members, is leaving this weekend changed.  Tommy Booth said that the Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat was perfect for his family: "I've never seen my mom smile this much."

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The Magic Continues

This post was authored by Inheritance of Hope volunteer Mary Finch.

Today the families got to explore the Disney Parks once again.  Some chose to see wildlife in Animal Kingdom while others chose to check out the classics in the Magic Kingdom.  Either way, a fun time was had by all.

The Hurlbut family especially had fun visiting the main attractions at Epcot including, but by no means limited to, Soarin’, Test Track, and Ellen’s Dream.

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Another fun-filled day!

After another morning of productive group time gaining tools to navigate the challenges they face, families set off for the Disney parks with their park hopper passes.  Despite the crazy winter weather moving through the Southeast, we had another sunny day in Orlando  with highs in the 60's.

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A Magical Day

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No doubt this day was special!  All of the families had a wonderful time in the Disney Parks and there were lots of smiles and stories to share this evening.

DSC_0147Please check out all the twitter feeds to read the moment by moment action by each family.  I must admit I have delegated out my "tweeting" to a very lovely and capable volunteer named Jacey.  She is gifted with words and enthusiasm and I know she enjoys keeping everyone up-to-date with the families and activities of this Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat.  (Thanks Jacey!)

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Sunny Orlando

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It's a great day in Orlando Florida.  The sun is shining.  The temperatures are in the 70s. All of the families and volunteers are well-rested after a good night's sleep.

DSC_0257We met for breakfast this morning and then had a counseling session, followed by lunch at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.  The children had a wonderful time in their morning session and have already seemed to form some incredible friendships with the other children as well as the volunteers and staff.  There always seems to be a lot of noise coming from the children's sessions as they laugh and joke and play together.  All the while they are learning some major lessons in anger management, how to handle fears, hurts and frustrations, and communication skills.  It is difficult to describe the bonds that these children feel with one another as they share these unique and difficult circumstances.

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Everyone is Here!

All the Families with Mickey Mouse

Everyone has arrived!

The weather in Orlando today was absolutely gorgeous.  The sun was shining and the temperatures were in the 60s and 70s.

We were so excited to welcome families from Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, New York, California, North Carolina, Missouri, Illinois, Texas, West Virginia, and Florida.

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Until We Meet Again

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It is hard to believe we have only known each other 3 days.  These past few days have really bonded us all together in such a wonderful and special way.  The children created some very special relationships with our volunteers and staff.  I heard more then one of them say they "don't want to leave" (Gage) and "wish they could stay together longer." (Jordan and Justin)  This children are leaving with some amazing memories with their families, some wonderful new friendships with the volunteers and other family members and some tools to help manage and work through their personal struggles and fears.

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A Day Packed With Fun!

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The weather continued to amaze us all day today as the temperatures remained around 60 degrees all afternoon and evening.  The families walked about 4 blocks to Radio City Music Hall after lunch and enjoyed the legendary Christmas Spectacular Show featuring the Rockettes.  The children and adults alike were thrilled with the show and also the drinks and popcorn they got to enjoy during it.

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A Beautiful Day in NYC

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Another beautiful day in the city.  We enjoyed another magnificent breakfast at the Hotel Novotel at 8:30 this morning.  While we ate, we watched four guys change a large billboard.  It was impressive to watch, especially at eye level!  The weather is warmer today.  As I write, it's 64 degrees - toasty considering it's almost December.

After breakfast, everyone headed up to 73rd for our meeting time.  Parents had a great session talking about legacy.  Linda Stoll, the counselor who skillfully facilitates these sessions said "the session went fabulously and the parents did great work."

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Seeing the City from Land and Sea

Today was an amazing day!  We kicked off this morning with a yummy breakfast at the Hotel Novotel enjoying the view of Times Square as we munched on french toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, muffins and fruit.  The Elliott boys were particularly thrilled at the large steaming mugs of hot cocoa delivered to their table.  Following breakfast we had our morning session together.  The children had a blast with some very creative activities involving a lot of exploding water and a messy swamp...I will leave it at that to keep the surprise in tact for future Legacy Retreat families.

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