Wishful thinking leads to the Oasis
It started with a documentary on the Discovery Channel.
Now, Chad Hellingman is aboard the largest cruise ship in the world.
The 16-year-old Westsyde secondary Grade 10 student and his family are on the Oasis of the Seas, sailing through the Caribbean.
Chad, who suffers from a congenital heart defect and is missing a pulmonary valve, received the trip from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
He said the choice for his wish was an easy one.
“I saw the documentary on Discovery Channel,” he said.
“I’ve been on a couple of cruises and I was like, ‘I like cruises.’”
So, Chad decided to take the ultimate cruise, aboard the ship featured in last summer’s documentary series Mighty Ships.
Oasis of the Seas is a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, tipping the scales at more than 225,000 tons and measuring more than 360 metres in length.
It rises 72 metres — more than 20 storeys — above the water line.
And, what is Chad most excited about?
“Everything,” he said.
“Probably my room. I’ve never had a balcony room before.”
If you asked Chad’s mom, Diana, she would say her youngest son is excited to spend the week in the Caribbean with his older brother.
The Make-a-Wish Foundation’s rules generally only allow children Chad’s age to travel with their parents.
But, because his 19-year-old brother, Sean, lives away from home — attending university in upstate New York — Chad is allowed to bring him as a friend.
“I haven’t seen him for a while,” Chad said of his brother, who is a sophomore math major and soccer player at Daemen College outside Buffalo.
Speaking with KTW at the airport prior to beginning the journey to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the Oasis of the Seas’ home port — Port Everglades — is located, Diana appeared almost as excited as Chad.
“I’m so over the top,” she said.
“She’s been screaming for the last week,” he said.
“We’ve been telling her to be quiet.”