The trip of the children from the Sails of Hope charity came to an end last week in Monaco. The group of a hundred young cancer and leukaemia survivors, aged between 8 and 14 years of age who courageously battled the hardest of times, took part in a sailing adventure on the Côte d’Azur.
The little adventurers, from all over France as well as Morocco and Israel, set off on a loop that began in Grimaud, a small village on the French Riviera where 60 sail boats were set up, ending in the Principality before heading back. The trip gives them a chance to escape and refresh their spirits: “It is the biggest nautical event in the world organised for children who have faced such hardships. It requires a great deal of effort, which is why it only takes place twice a year”, explained the head of the organisation, Marc-Dominique Tramoni.
Their ‘five continents’ themed fleet celebrated each continent every night with games and animations and stopped over at the Yacht Club for a Prince and Princess party where they learnt all about Europe. “We were all in suit and tie, and the children were just as elegant. The girls dressed up as princesses, it was really exceptional”, described Jean-Christian, accompanying member of the French round table. Marc-Dominique Tramoni was not short of praise: “It’s truly extraordinary. The Yacht Club’s welcome was incredible and the evening was like a fairy-tale, for both the children and the adults, it was marvellous. Someone told me: ‘It’s a good thing that Sails of Hope exists, we would never had had the opportunity to go to the Yacht Club’. It’s more than just magic for them, it’s a dream come true”.
An evening that put a big smile on the faces of the little ones, adults included! A smile that was made even bigger when they discovered the group of collectable cars that were waiting for them outside the Prince’s Palace, ready to escort them to Cannes to reunite them with their sail boats. Lotus, Renault Juvaquatre, Citroën Tractions, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche… all provided by the Monaco Automobile Club. “Oh my goodness! It’s this all for us?”, exclaimed a young boy upon seeing the array of cars provided for them. “Monaco is really beautiful, but seeing all these cars… I am speechless. It’s so pretty!”, cried out another. This is thanks to the great support provided by Prince Albert II and the Principality of Monaco.
An adventure that has existed since 2009 and costs a grand 650 000 euros to organise but that is kindly financed by clubs such as the French Round Table, Club 41, Ladies Circle and Club Agora, that hold fundraising events all throughout the year. The event is super thought through, making sure that the children are completely cared for, with professional skippers, a complete medical team and even helicopters that follow the boats in case of an emergency. The children are able to experience a fun side of life, one of teamwork and community. They discover the ocean and its vastness, which sometimes inspires future vocations; such as Laurie who is now 22 years old but participated in the sailing trip in 2007 and 2009 and who would now like to become a maritime police officer.
The Sails of Hope want to change the children’s lives, at least for a few days. Jean Christian believes the mission has been accomplished: “When we see their smiles and faces, it just makes us so happy. We create memories for them and stories that they’ll excitedly tell their parents, you really can’t put a price on that”.
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