SANTA ROSA BEACH-- Sean Petrone says the highlight of week-long vacation to Santa Rosa Beach has been making new friends.
Sean was diagnosed with leukemia August 8, 2011.
"Every three months he gets put to sleep and gets chemo in his spine. Then every night at home he takes chemo pills. So he receives a lot of chemo, but he deals with it well, and rolls with the punches and things like this really help us get through,' said his mother, Pamela Petrone.
Lighthouse Family Retreat made this trip possible free of charge for Sean, but his entire family gets equal focus.
"We want those siblings to really feel special. So many times they don't get asked how they are doing, instead it's hows your brother or your sister. So we make them feel special. Then we create a great environment for parents, just to allow them to be parents and couples again," said Lighthouse Executive Director Chris Woodruff.
Each family is paired with a volunteer family, one that is there just to wait on a family dealing with child cancer.
"It's kind of crazy that we are raising money to go clean for another family and we are using our vacation, but we are blessed so much in return," said volunteer Amy Parker.
40,000 families deal with childhood cancer but it took this week to help them realize they are not alone.
"It's the same roller coasters you are going through, it's the same kind of hardships. You think you are all alone, but really you talk to other people, and they are all feeling the same way."
Lighthouse retreat has hosted 1,000 families since 1999, with about 200 expected this summer.