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Concord Alumnus Organizes Trip of Hope

By Kelson Howerton
On October 23, 2017

Trip of Hope will take local at risk and foster children to Walt Disney World. 
Photo By Brandon Hicks

In an effort to give back to the many underprivileged children of Southern West Virginia, Concord University alumnus Brandon Hicks has organized Trip of Hope, an organization currently dedicated to taking 20 underprivileged children to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, for a Thanksgiving they will never forget.

    The idea for this trip emerged when Hicks got the opportunity to meet with many of these kids with abusive or neglectful backgrounds, and encountered a child whose one wish was to go to Disney World, a place where wishes do come true. As it so happens, that same year Hicks took up a position at My Mickey Vacation Travel, a travel agency that plans specialized Disney vacations. “I really feel like there is no coincidence there,” Hicks stated.

    With this idea in mind, Hicks began organizing the Trip of Hope through Operation Compassion, a non-faith-based mission in Princeton, West Virginia, and began figuring out the organizations budget, the number of children they could realistically take, and the necessary accommodations for the trip.

    Hicks and the other members of Trip of Hope also began working with The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and foster care agencies throughout the state to figure out the requirements of a trip such as this and to select the children that fit the criteria of the trip – local children that are either at risk or have been in the foster care system at some point and are exhibiting good behavior. From there, Trip of Hope began building the staff needed for each kid to be accompanied by one adult chaperone.

    Hicks and several other Trip of Hope members have already had the opportunity to meet many of these kids through the Royal Family Kids Camp in Princeton, West Virginia, where Hicks has served in the past.

    Today, Hicks’s organization numbers between 50 to 60 people, including fellow Concord alumnus Blake Farmer and several other Concord students, all working to make this dream a reality.

    Members of the organization have held many fundraisers, including hosting painting parties and selling several different products, and the organization has also been accepting donations from members of the community. With several more fundraisers left to go, Hicks believes the organization will hit its goal and be ready to take the kids to Orlando on November 22.

    However, this Thanksgiving will not be the end for Trip of Hope, as Hicks hopes the organization will be able to fund more trips like this in the future. “This is something that we definitely feel lead to continue to do,” Hicks said. “As we’ve reached out to the community, we’ve had such a great outpouring of support and confirmation that this does need to happen, that these children really do need to see that there is a brighter life out there. There are places that you can go and work and fulfill dreams. Not that Disney fixes everything, but it just gets them out of dark situations into a time where they can truly be kids and see that good behavior is rewarded, and that really, anything they set their minds to, they can achieve it.”

    As a way to kick off the future of the organization, Trip of Hope will be hosting a “Gala of Hope” on Concord campus sometime after the organization returns from Disney. Among other pieces, Hicks said the gala will feature “some pieces of art that we’ll be shooting at Disney.”

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