MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Organizers rolled out the welcome mat for a group of special children who got to enjoy the kind of day at the beach many in South Florida take for granted.

Tuesday’s fun outing was part of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s VACC Camp, short for Ventilation Assisted Children’s Center Camp, a free weeklong overnight camp for ventilation assisted children.

“You really can’t describe today in words what it means to the kids,” said parent Craig Kinnane. “It really is the highlight of their year when they come down here for the week.”

The beach trip gave young participants the opportunity to leave their hospital rooms and play on the sand or, in some cases, in the sand.

7News cameras captured caretakers laying 19-year-old Amanda Patrick in a shallow hole in the sand.

Her mother said she loves to be buried in the sand while her friends cheer her on. “They make a big hole, and they put her in. That’s the best part,” said Nadine Patrick.

VACC Camp’s founder, Dr. Moises Simpser, said these patients should be able to interact with other children their age in a social setting. “You get them into the community, get them into the school system, get them into the mall. Be kids,” he said. “Kids have to be with kids.”

These children, who are dependent on ventilators, got to do just that, without any restrictions. They were able to get around on their motorized chairs thanks to a pathway rolled out by Miami Beach Fire Rescue.

“This little walkway down was awesome for [my son’s] chair,” said parent Michelle Croche. “He could cruise right down. He loves to drive his chair.”

There was even a waterproof wheelchair so children could go into the water.

It all made for a carefree day for patients and their families, who usually require medical attention around the clock.

Families like Kinnane’s, who said his daughter shows her appreciation every time she’s able to go to the beach. “Her smile lights up and, you know, she just loves it,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The camp has hosted more than 200 families for the past 31 years, thanks to generous donations made to Miami Children’s Health Foundation.

For more information about VACC Camp, go to

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