NAPLES, Fla. -- A non-profit organization is stepping up to help kids of fallen heroes.
Every year, Operation 300 holds several camps where it provides an all-expenses-paid, three-day weekend for kids. They get to do outdoor activities that they would normally do with their Dads.
Over the weekend, the organization planned an adventurous vacation for 25 kids and 16 Moms from all over the country at the Port of the Islands in Naples.
For the first time, kids got to play football with former NFL players, Ronnie Ghent, A.J. and Chad Lee.
“It’s a great feeling, there’s nothing like seeing kids light up,” said Ghent, former New Orleans Saints player.
A game they never got to play with their Dads because they died in action.
“5 years ago today, my Father passed away,” said Makaylin Gibson. “My mom got a text in the car that he passed. He was in the Navy and he was the helicopter pilot.”
The camp started after a tragedy.
“Back in 2011, in August, my brother Aaron was a Navy Seal and killed in action,” said Tara Baldwin, President of Operation 300.
A year after Aaron Vaughn’s death, she created the camp to carry on his legacy and help other kids of fallen heroes.
“I thought about how many other hundreds and thousands of kids across the country had lost a Dad a lot like him and what they would be missing out on,” said Baldwin.
She says children miss out on the little things with their Dad, like playing catch, going on boat rides and swimming in the pool.
“I miss him a lot, he passed away 11 years ago when I was 3 and now I am 14,” said Kyra Coyle-Desilets. “So it’s really nice knowing that people understand that the pain will not go away with time, it will there my whole life.”
Local businesses stepped up to fund the entire weekend.
“My respect is for anyone serving the military who gave the ultimate sacrifice and this is the least we can do to give back and make a difference,” said Michael Randall, Owner of Naples Land and Sea Rentals.
Meanwhile, the Mothers for Operation 300 spent most of the day getting all dolled up.
They got their hair done at the Robert of Philadelphia salon in Naples.
The Moms were treated like queens while their kids had a blast at camp.
“But to come here and to be able to do everything their Dad would be doing with them, they love it,” said Mother, Enjolie Bates. “Operation 300 is our favorite experience we do every single year.”
It was an unforgettable experience but none of it would be possible without your help.
For more information on how to donate, go to the Operation 300 website.
Operation 300 is accepting applications for kids ages 6-18 whose Fathers died in action.