Jacyn Pisieczko, 14, visited the Ocean City Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6650 with his family on Friday evening.
The family had arrived in a limousine, so he must have known something was up. But he wasn’t quite sure why he was there until a crowd of more than 100 veterans and supporters shouted simultaneously, “You’re going to Disney World.”
Pisieczko is diagnosed with severe autism and will face lifelong challenges as a result. His mother, Lisa Bryant, became a single parent when Pisieczko’s father suddenly passed away a few years ago. She said she would never be able to do something this special for Jacyn and his two siblings, Eric and Erin, on her own. The family lives in the Erma section of Lower Township.
“This is literally a dream come true,” Bryant said on Friday night, holding back tears.
The all-expenses-paid trip was made possible through the Sunshine Foundation, which “answers dreams for chronically ill, seriously ill, physically challenged and abused children.” The VFW raised money to make the trip possible, and contributed an additional $2,000 in spending money.
Post Commander Mike Morrissey said the seeds for the partnership with the Sunshine Foundation were planted at the Fall Block Party in Ocean City, where Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michele Gillian helped the VFW secure a table at a prime location in front of City Hall.
There, Morrissey met Carmen D’Angelo of the Sunshine Foundation. Morrissey brought the idea of partnering with the Sunshine Foundation to a VFW business meeting and in “the easiest vote we ever had,” all agreed to do so.
He said the effort including substantial financial support from the Ocean City Board of Realtors.
“Ocean City has a community that has always been so generous,” said Kate Sample, president of Sunshine Foundation.
Morrissey said that while the post’s veterans have all taken an oath to serve and defend our country, Friday was to be a “night of thank yous” to the community.
He thanked Mayor Jay Gillian.
“Thanks to his efforts, this post is going to be thriving for a long time,” Morrissey said.
He thanked all of City Council, including Tony Wilson, Keith Hartzell, Antwan McClellan and Pete Madden in attendance at the even, and he thanked former Ocean City Business Administrator Mike Dattilo.
He thanked Michele Gillian and the Board of Realtors.
He gave a special thanks to Sally Huff for helping t0 “put together this whole thing.”
And he thanked the veterans, family members and community members who pitched in.
Pisieczko summed it up pretty good in his own words:
“It’s great to be here,” he said. “And I’m about to go to Disney World.”