The relaxing sound of the ocean, lush palm trees, salty air and tropical scenery may be in the future for a hopeful 9-year-old boy thanks to five UCF business students. 

The students have been working on a mission to send a young boy on a Caribbean cruise with his family, so they can get away from the multiple hospitalizations.

Alyssa Kruger, Shayna Greenberger, Gabriela Edwards, Autumn Davis and Kent Barley formed a Cornerstone group to gain social entrepreneurship experience, however, they say what they have experienced along the way has been much more than that.

UCF offers a Cornerstone Lecture course so students can practice lessons related to entrepreneurial thinking, communication and teamwork. The students’ goals are to adopt a mission to create and sustain social value, pursue opportunities to serve their mission, act boldly and exhibit accountability, according to the UCF Cornerstone website.

After choosing New Hope for Kids as their client, the group of students chose Noah as their “wish child” and began fundraising to send Noah and his family on a Caribbean cruise and cover medical expenses.

“This is a chance for us to focus on something other than ourselves and make a tremendous difference in this little boy’s life,” UCF Finance major Alyssa Kruger said. “During this Cornerstone course, not only do we get to help someone who desperately needs it, but we also get to learn important networking skills and get different experience than the standard classroom learning setting.”

Noah fights multiple life threatening illnesses and undergoes brain surgery every few months. He has two serious brain abnormalities, is dependent on gastrostomy tube feedings, suffers from growth hormone deficiencies and requires a wheelchair.

“Despite all that Noah has endured, it is not his suffering that makes us want to help him, but his will to live through and treasure the small time that he does have free from pain,” Edwards said.

The group has set a goal of $10,000 and they have raised just under $3,000.

If the students are unable to raise the $10,000, Noah and his family will still be able to attend the cruise thanks to New Hope for Kids, who has already purchased the cruise tickets. The money raised will go towards the trip expenses, and if they surpass the goal the extra donations will go towards Noah’s family and the organization currently assisting him.

After several hospitalizations and surgeries, Noah’s mother Katie Bower said she is thankful to the students for working to help fund Noah’s tropical getaway.

“He actually just got out of the hospital from his seventh brain surgery, eighth overall surgery, and 10th hospital admission in the past year alone,” Bower said. “Giving him something to look forward to other than more surgeries, hospital stays and painful procedures is so much more than a vacation. Its something to get excited for and a chance to escape from all the medical issues and just be a kid.”

According to Bower, her son was previously accepted by another wish agency but ended up being too sick to do anything. He is eager to finally have someone grant him a wish and make his dream a reality.

“Watching these students really take an interest in Noah, plan a special unique party just for him and work towards giving him a wish has really touched us all,” Bower said. “It’s incredibly hard on the whole family when a child has such serious medical problems, and knowing that they care and are doing this for Noah and our family is so meaningful.”