The mission of Operation: Key West is to help and support military families who have a child that is battling cancer, in recovery from cancer or sadly who have lost a child to cancer.
Families like Derrick's...see their story below.
Everyone involved with Operation: Key West are forever grateful and appreciative of all the brave men and women who serve or have served in our nation's military.
Derrick is a beautiful 5 year old boy. He is the youngest of 3 children in his family. At the age of 2 Derrick was diagnosed with Leukemia. At the time his father, active military, was on deployment leaving Derrick's mom alone to manage the household, the three children and all of Derrick's medical needs and treatments.
In mid-April of this year we received a request for support from Derrick's Child Life Specialist at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Chris Brogan, requesting a modest list of gifts for Derrick. Recognizing the impact a child fighting cancer has on the entire family OKW went to work putting together a "Care Package" for them. The gifts were bought, wrapped and sent to Derrick's family in late April.
The response we received was heart warming to say the least. In the words of Derrick's mom:
"Please see attached some pictures we took from the gift openings. I apologize as a lot of them are blurry because the kids were just so excited and wouldn’t stop for a moment to take a still picture 😆" . As you can see, the pictures below tell the story for more click below...
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (July 16, 2021) A patient of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth's (NMCP) Pediatric Oncology Department surprises his very special friend with a gift with the help of Operation Key West, July 16.
Operation Key West is a program that aides in helping military families and small businesses. Their sole purpose is to improve the quality of life for wounded heroes and their families. Operation Key West was able to coordinate a unique opportunity with Taylor Roberts, a 21 year old patient who has been battling cancer since he was 14 years old, to support him by honoring his request to do something special for his girlfriend.
“We discussed how we could brighten his day and, at the same time, acknowledge her amazing loyalty in very trying times,” said Mr. James McGonigle, founder of Operation Key West. “We came up with the idea of getting diamond stud earrings for Taylor to give to her as a surprise gift.”
Lindsey Gorham, Taylor’s girlfriend, has been a truly incredible steadfast support through a very long and difficult medical season. She has been by Taylor’s side for most of his journey. Lindsey was pleasantly caught off guard by the act of kindness from her boyfriend.
“This is super nice,” Lindsey said. “I’m really happy about it. It is truly nice that he had the opportunity to surprise me.”
Taylor has been diagnosed with various forms of cancer and has been a patient of NMCP for a good portion of his life. Through all of his experiences, Taylor has done his best to remain positive.
“Taylor usually keeps his emotions close to the vest, but I haven’t seen him smile and laugh out loud like he did today in a very long time,” said Chris Brogan, NMCP’s Child Life Specialist.
Operation Key West continues to provide remarkable support to military families.
As the U.S. Navy's oldest, continuously-operating military hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally-acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical center, along with the area's 10 branch health and TRICARE Prime Clinics, provide care for the Hampton Roads area. The medical center also supports premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsman for future roles in healing and wellness.
James R, McGonigle, Founder and CEO of Help Soldiers, Inc., and Operation: Key West. For more click here Founder
How This Program Got Started - The idea originated on Christmas Day after returning home from Fort Belvoir where Help Soldiers sponsored a Christmas Dinner for those soldiers who were unable to go home for Christmas for whatever reason.
During this event, we were able to spend some quality time with Amy Altersitz, the USO individual in charge of events, and her combat veteran husband, Tom, who volunteers at the base. We heard part of their “story” which still remains with us. While Tom was serving in a combat area in Iraq several years ago, he learned that his 7 year old son had passed away. Hard to imagine the pain and helplessness being in a war half-way around the world and getting that crushing news!
We arranged to have lunch with Amy on our way home from Key West in February. We asked if she and her husband would allow us to “treat” them to a week in Key West. Her response was, and I quote, (a) “Are you serious?” (b) tears of joy/surprise and (c) “no one has ever done anything like that for us!” We took that as a “YES”!
"The military provides care for a sick child and their families until the child dies. The parents are then abandoned at a time when they need us most."
- Vice Admiral (Ret.) Harold M. Koenig, Former Surgeon General of the Navy
FOR MORE CLICK the link below to see a 4 minute video sponsored by 1776, the Northeast Corridor's largest network of entrepreneurial incubators.
Born: Nov 14, 1997 Died: Jan 2005
I found love, and married Amy in 1997. As a military BRAT, I always saw my future as a soldier. Enlisting in the Army a little over a year after high school was what I was always meant to do. Now with a new wife, a baby on the way and a bright future as a soldier we were ready to start our life together and we were looking forward to where that life would take us. For their full story click below.
Born: Nov 17, 2015 Died: April 2018
Revel was born on November 17, 2015 and at 14 months of age was diagnosed with Stage 4 MYCN+ neuroblastoma, a very rare type of cancerous tumor that almost always affects children. This dreadful disease took the life of Revel at the tender age of 4. or the rest of story. For their full story click below.
Son: Taylor Christian
Born: Nov 18, 2011 Died: May 1, 2018
Taylor was born on November 18, 2011 in Fayetteville, North Carolina, weighing 5 Ibs 5 oz and 18 inches long. He was the perfect little addition to Melissa and Roger's (Dada's) marriage. He grew rapidly, reaching milestones fairly early and slowly grew into a goofy, silly, fun and caring little boy. For their full story click below.
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