The trip of a lifetime for a child with autism and his family.

    Jacyn receiving the surprise of his life with his family and Post 6650
  Jacyn and Mickey Mouse at Disney World 

VFW Post 6650 in Ocean City, N.J., partnered with the Sunshine Foundation to send a child with autism and his family on a dream trip to Disney World. 

The Sunshine Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to answer the dreams of chronically ill children whose families can’t do so due to financial strain caused by the child’s illness.

“We are very unique because most wish-granting organizations only grant wishes for children who are terminally ill,” said Kate Sample, President of the Sunshine Foundation.

The partnership began when VFW Post 6650 and the Sunshine Foundation had adjacent tents at the Ocean City Block Party.

“I got to talking to their Chapter President, and thought our Post could help,” said Mike Morrissey, VFW Post 6650 Commander. “I brought the idea back to my Post and my members voted unanimously to sponsor a child’s dream. Easiest vote we’ve ever had.”

The child whose dream they would make come true? A local boy named Jacyn Pisieczko, 14, who suffers from severe autism. Pisieczko’s mom, Lisa Bryant, became a single mother when her husband passed away suddenly a few years ago.

Post 6650 raised $7,000 to help send Pisieczko, his mother and two siblings on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disney World—$5,000 for the trip and $2,000 for extra spending money. 

What’s more? Post 6650 planned a special event to surprise Pisieczko.

“The family didn’t have a car to get to the Post, so we rented a limo for them to make it extra special,” said Morrissey. When the family arrived, they were met with a crowd of more than 100 veterans ad supporters, who simultaneously shouted, “You’re going to Disney World!”

Pisieczko was very surprised and stoked to go to Disney World. His mother held back tears as she saw the joy on her son’s face.

“It was the best Friday night ever!” said Bryant. “Jacyn and his siblings were just through the roof.”

Following the surprise, Post 6650 hosted a dinner in Pisieczko’s honor. Here they presented him with an honorary life membership to the Post, which, as Bryant described, was just as special to Jacyn as the trip to Disney.

“Having the community come out and support him was very generous and heartwarming,” said Sample. “Jacyn was so sweet and very appreciative.”

Pisieczko’s dream came true when his family visited Disney World in February. They stayed at the Sunshine Foundation’s very own Sunshine Village in Central Florida, where they enjoyed free lodging, meals and transportation.

“It was a dream come true,” said Bryant. “We arrived on Jacyn’s 14th birthday and Mickey Mouse sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him! He even loved the plane ride. He would always look up and say he wanted to jump into the clouds. On the plane, he kept saying, ‘I’m in the clouds. I’m the king of the world!’”

Bryant is beyond grateful for what this trip has meant to her family.

“I am just speechless,” said Bryant. “It means everything to be able to see my kids this happy.”

Bryant wasn’t the only one pleased with the VFW’s participation in making a child’s dream a reality.

“All of us at the Sunshine Foundation are so grateful to the VFW and Mike Morrissey,” said Sample. “We currently have more than 300 chronically ill children on our waiting list, so this was truly a blessing.”

Morrissey thanks the Ocean City Board of Realtors, Mayor Jay Gillian, the local City Council and Sally Huff for making this possible.

“Ocean City has always been a very generous community,” said Sample. “This time was no exception.”

Sample was especially grateful that veterans took part in this child’s dream. Turns out Bill Sample, founder of the Sunshine Foundation, was a Korean War veteran.

“He would be so proud of the support from his fellow veterans,” said Sample. “We are grateful for the VFW members’ services to our country and the compassion they’ve shown our children.”

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