NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Dozens of Make-A-Wish children got a break from doctors and hospitals to enjoy a special night out Monday.
The Holiday Harbor Cruise for Wish Kids was underway on Balboa Island, with visits from Santa and special gifts.
The evening provided much-needed joy for about 50 children, like Taylor Toms’ daughter.
“She had four open-heart surgeries since she was 6 months old. The last one, she had a stroke,” Toms said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department was on hand to help.
“We get to run around and eat with them. We put on fire gear and we take pictures with them. It’s just so fulfilling for all of us and for them,” said Capt. Jay Wasserman.
Stephanie McCormick, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Orange County and Inland Empire, said it’s an event the organization looks forward to annually.
“Quite often, some of these children never get out of the house to visit, you know, who is coming to town,” McCormick said.
For some, however, the gift of the night was simply to spend time with other kids who understand.
“[There’s] not a lot of staring like other people on the streets. We’re not all the same, but we’re able to relate,” Brandi Lara said.