- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 16, 2008

Portsmouth Naval Medical Center with 4-year-old Aidan, the other would be home with their daughter, Aleksandra, then 6.

In August, days after Aidan finished his fifth round of chemotherapy, the Suffolk family spent a week renewing tattered family ties in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation.

“We had been two families of two for eight months,” Klista Najewicz said. “Getting to be one family of four again was amazing.”

For more than 20 years, the Maryland-based charity has helped the families of critically ill children escape the rigors of treatment at a handful of vacation homes in the Mid-Atlantic.

But the Najewiczes were one of the first families to stay at an Ocean City property that Believe in Tomorrow now sets aside exclusively for military families. A second vacation home for military families with ill children is under construction in the mountains of North Carolina.

Brian Morrison, the man who founded Believe in Tomorrow 26 years ago, said he has special concern for military families.

“They make so many sacrifices in their lives to provide service to this country that when they’re dealing with a catastrophic illness of a child, they really deserve the support of the community,” Mr. Morrison said.

For the first few days of the vacation, Tim Najewicz felt guilty accepting the foundation’s generosity.

“I think we paid for one meal,” said the chief petty officer, a submariner.

In addition to the lodging, Believe in Tomorrow arranges as many or as few activities as families can handle. The Najewiczes took part in a pirate adventure, a dolphin-watching trip and a spin on a Coast Guard patrol boat.

“One of the things this experience has taught us is to live in the here and now,” Mrs. Najewicz said.

The vacation allowed Aidan and Aleksandra to become brother and sister again. During stretches of her brother’s hospital stay, Aleksandra wasn’t allowed in his room. She’d wave to him from behind glass.

Their beach trip marked a new chapter.

“They really have been inseparable since we came home,” Chief Petty Officer Najewicz said.

Watching his kids play together in the sand and the waves helped him understand that the vacation wasn’t about charity - it was a chance for his family to reset after a harrowing experience.

“It was almost selfish of me to think like that. It wasn’t for me. It was for the family. It had been a long eight months,” he said.

Aidan’s bone marrow is now healthy.

For another local family helped by the foundation, respite came in the mountains.

While their son Walker was being treated at Portsmouth this spring for Charlie Gorney looked forward to a summer getaway into the mountains of western North Carolina.

There, near Hendersonville, Believe in Tomorrow is building another vacation home specifically for military families with ailing children.

The Gorneys are originally from Tennessee, and they’re not beach people, Mrs. Gorney said. But they knew 4-year-old Walker and his older brother, 7-year-old Mason, would enjoy some time in the woods.

Walker died before they could get there.

Believe in Tomorrow didn’t back out.

“I don’t know if it’s because of their military initiative, or it’s just the kind of organization they are, they honored the commitment they made,” Mrs. Gorney said.



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