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Joe has had a lifelong dream to go to America. His younger sister Carolyn can’t quite pinpoint the origins of his ‘obsession’ but recalls his early and enduring love of Elvis, Johnny Cash and all things Disney.

“Mum and Dad listened to a lot of Elvis and Johnny Cash records when Joe was young so I guess it all stems from there,” said Carolyn.

This year Joe will celebrate his 64th birthday with the holiday of his dreams – 12 days in America. Disneyland, Hollywood and an Elvis tribute show in Las Vegas are all on the agenda.

“I need to pinch myself at times – I just can’t believe that Joe’s dream is about to come true,” said Carolyn, who became Joe’s primary support person after their parents passed away.

Carolyn was prepared to fund and organise Joe’s trip to America but needed a disability service provider who could help make it happen.

I ran into a few dead ends with other service providers before I approached Centacare with the idea.

Joe had been part of Centacare’s ‘Southside Community Connection’ for just over three years. Based out of Carina, in Brisbane’s eastern suburbs, the popular social group spend four days per week out and about, learning skills and participating in all kinds of community activities.

Carolyn spoke to Joe’s Support Worker, Paulina toward the end of last year about his dream to visit America and, as a first step, Joe’s Service Delivery Manager, Marina arranged nine days of holiday from Joe’s first NDIS plan. The idea gathered momentum through further conversations, including with Centacare’s Director of Client Services, who was equally committed to make Joe’s dream a reality.

“Centacare has pulled out all the stops to make this happen for Joe,” said Carolyn.

“They put me in touch with the travel agent who had previously arranged a group cruise for Centacare clients, satisfied all the planning and risk assessment requirements and completed the service agreement to allow Paulina to accompany Joe on the trip.

“Finding the right person to go overseas with Joe was the biggest challenge. As you can imagine, it’s a huge responsibility for someone to take on. While Joe doesn’t have complex needs, he still needs prompting in terms of personal care and he needs to be with someone he feels comfortable with.

“Paulina was the natural choice. She and Joe have a special connection. She knows Joe really well and genuinely understands him. We both trust her implicitly and I’m just so grateful to her, and Centacare, for making this happen for Joe. I hope it’s one of those special life events that they will remember forever.”

Joe’s family paid for his trip to America and the NDIS funded the required 1:1 support.