For David (33) from Leeds, New York really is the city ‘where dreams are made of’.
David Day, who has a learning disability and is supported by national charity Hft, has been saving for 10 years to make his dream trip to the Big Apple a reality. He was met with many obstacles along his way, including the expense of the trip, the Covid-19 pandemic and other practical considerations around how to support his needs whilst abroad.
However, David’s 10 years of savings plus £750 in support from Hft’s Extra Special Fund – a fund dedicated to creating special moments and memories in the lives of people the charity supports – made sure every experience on his wish-list could be ticked off.
Helen Stewart, David’s longstanding support worker, accompanied David on his whirlwind dream trip:
“From the very start we knew the trip was going to be extra special; David was invited to meet the pilot in the plane’s cockpit before hopping in a big yellow taxi to kick things off.”
The pair’s first day began with breakfast at a 1950’s diner followed by a trip on the Staten Island Ferry. After a return journey past the Statue of Liberty, David and Helen landed at the World Trade Centre, taking the opportunity to visit Ground Zero and view the memorial before heading to the top of the Empire State Building where they enjoyed the panoramic views.
The following day, David and Helen experienced their first of three Broadway shows – the Radio City Rockets Christmas Show. They then took a stroll past the towering Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Centre and through Central Park. From there, it was just a short hop to Central Park Zoo where David was excited to spot a snow leopard.
The third day saw David and Helen ready for another Christmas-themed day out- the Santaland shopping experience at Macy’s.
“We were queuing for two hours in our Christmas jumpers and hats. It’s absolutely massive, and just magical. The staff cheer you in and it’s got lots of different sections to it. There were mechanical squirrels on the walls, trains going around, and you get to meet Santa at the end. We must have been in there for about an hour – followed by three hours looking around Macy’s.
“This was followed by a second Broadway show- Aladdin. I’ve never seen a show like it in my life, we had such good tickets! We’d got David and I seats just four rows back, and it was something else. At the end, I managed to get them to bring out the magic lamp they used on stage, so David could have a picture with it. He absolutely loved it.”
Helen also managed to secure a reservation for Tea at The Plaza. Although The Plaza was fully booked until the end of January, Helen was so determined to make it happen and spoke to the staff to make this special part of David’s New York dream come true.
Naturally, the day didn’t end there. There was still time to join the crowds for the mesmerising Saks Fifth Avenue light show, before the pair’s third Broadway show of their visit, A Christmas Carol.
“If you could see all the photos I’ve got here you’d see there is not one single photo where David hasn’t got the biggest Cheshire Cat grin! It just made my Christmas to see him so happy. I can’t even describe the feeling; being able to make his New York wish come true is something I’ve wanted for him for so long.
“There were quite a lot of things to put in place, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
“Thank you to everyone involved in making this happen for me. It was everything I have dreamed of and more.”