Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Travel and adventure was one of the major ways our family bonded. We love to visit new places, experience new cultures and we especially loved sharing that with Jackson. While he was unable to verbalize his feelings when we traveled we could tell he loved all of it and seeing the world through his eyes and smile made every trip ( near and far ) that much more special.
This spring we took our first BIG family trip without Jackson and we knew it would be bittersweet. We chose to go to Costa Rica and we chose to go to the less traveled area of the Caribbean Coast to a little remote town called Puerto Viejo. We selected a beautiful eco-resort called Aguas Claras both in the jungle and on the beach. Prior to our trip they contacted us and asked if we were celebrating a special occasion. I responded, explained our story of Jackson and that want to have a dinner in honor of him and his life and put a flower in the ocean as a gift to him.
I was contacted by the most lovely person, Chris Torrent, their F&B Manager. He explained to me he too had a non-profit organization and would love to connect when we arrived. When we met we all had an instant connection and shared our stories. Chris' organization is called Sharing Smiles and his mission is just that - share smiles. He accomplishes this by partnering with other non-profits, creating a line of T-Shirts in collaboration with them and sells the shirts and the proceeds go to his partnering non-profit. You may recognize the logo on the T-shirt, we loved it so much it is now the official Puffer Logo.
Chris was very moved by the story of Jackson. He decided to partner with Caden on his fundraiser honoring Jackson called Dream Relays where all proceeds go to making sports dreams come true for Dream on 3. Chris and Caden designed a T-shirt, the T-shirts have been produced and are being sold in Costa Rica and the US. All proceeds from the 50 shirts will go directly to the Dream Relay fundraiser.
While all of this was happening Chris was also planning our dinner for Jackson. Chris and his team really put their hearts into our dinner. We dined under a tent on the beach lit with lanterns and torches. We asked for a flower to put in the ocean, but they blew us away by building us a boat out of bamboo and filling it with flowers and candles. Best of all the boat had a sail with a picture of the puffer fish on the mast.
We keep in touch regularly with Chris and feel like he is part of the family. He has his own amazing story of perseverance and spreading smiles to everyone.