Local Family gets Special Trip to Disney World
By Christina Targosz, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- On Wednesday, September 25 Kristi Bowers, from Cedar Rapids, put her twin seventeen month old sons down for a nap. When Bowers went to wake the boys up, however, Vinnie did not wake up. He was perfectly healthy with no known complications before he died. An autopsy was done on Vinnie but his parents requested to not see the results.
To cope with the loss, Kristi Bowers started The Blue Sky Project as a way to remember her young son.
“I never expected it to be anything bigger than just something that was helping us,” Bowers said.
But Vinnie’s story quickly captured the hearts of people all over the country. The idea for the Bowers Disney World trip came from a complete stranger; a woman from Florida that was touched by Vinnie’s story. She contacted Makenzie Schultz, a friend of the Bowers, to make the trip a reality.
“She’s doing a lot of the stuff in Florida and I’m doing a lot of the coordinating here,” Schultz said. “Then we just put it together like one big puzzle and it’s worked out perfectly.”
They set up a private Facebook group, raising $20,000 in secret to send the Bowers to Disney World. Complete strangers helped pay for amenities including car rental fees, passes to theme parks, and a welcome party to greet them at the Orlando International Airport.
“People are donating amounts that we never expected,” Schultz said. “We thought people would be donating $25, and that would be amazing and that would’ve been a lot, but people are donating hundreds and these are people that don’t even know them.”
Nearly five weeks ago, Schultz surprised the Bowers with the generous trip, something they never expected.
“It’s so awesome that people were thinking to do something like that for us,” Bowers said.
The trip comes at a delicate time for the family. It’s been just over two months since Vinnie’s passing.
“It’s bittersweet,” Ben Bowers, Vinnie’s dad, said. “The trip that we’re going to take just because it’s such a hard time for us and our family, but this will be just a great trip to get away.”
Schultz hopes this will be a good opportunity for the Bowers to grieve and heal together in a place, other than their home.
“This trip is going to be magical for our kids,” Kristi Bowers said. “And for us and it is going to be a time that we can start healing as a family.”
On Thursday December 12, the Bowers left for Disney World out of the Eastern Iowa Airport.
They say this outpouring of support is now their son’s legacy. The Bowers hope to use their tragedy to inspire others not to take friends and family for granted.
“Nobody’s promised tomorrow,” Kristi Bowers said. “They’re not promised the day after that, so we want to make sure people appreciate their kids, the people in their lives, tell them that they love them and just live today for today.”
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