TAMPA BAY, FLA. — Destiny VanderLaan, a senior at Kankakee Valley High School spent a week of her winter break vacationing in Tampa Bay, Florida. Although she went to bathe in the sun, VanderLaan and her family were also there to support her grandparents, Irene and Wesley Churchill. Irene is currently living in a nursing home, while the last weekend in December, Wesley underwent lung surgery. Included in this trip was Destiny, her mother, father, brother, sister, and her grandmother, or as they call her, “Nonni”.

The ride to Tampa was an interesting one...because this was VanderLaan’s first ride in a plane! She said that she enjoyed it, although the landing of the plane was a bit rocky.

The VanderLaan family rented out a house in Tampa. They spent their first day after arriving wading in the pool, and then visiting her grandfather in the hospital. The lung surgery went well, and thankfully the doctors said that the surgery sailed by smoothly.

The lighter side of the trip included a botanical garden decorated with sparkling Christmas lights along with Destiny’s favorite part of the trip, Discovery Cove. While the family was at the botanical gardens, they were treated with food and snacks while they walked around the gardens.

About a three hour trip to Orlando led the family to Discovery Cove. Discovery Cove is a theme park owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. While there, the family got the experience of swimming with dolphins, along with snorkeling with various beautiful fish in the water.

Another element of Discovery Cove was the approximately forty-five minute lazy river that led the family to the bird cave, which was also another one of Destiny’s favorite parts of the trip. She has a bird of her own at home!

At the end of the lazy river came the gift shop, which led Destiny to purchase a souvenir from Discovery Cove, a handmade glass dolphin. All of the profits received from the gift shop go directly to support the animals that live in Discovery Cove. VanderLaan thoroughly enjoyed her trip this year to Tampa, Florida!