A businessman with a high-flying career and a lovely Porsche swapped out his life of luxury in order to spend more time with his terminally ill daughter and travel around the world. He says that he has never been happier.
Vicky Silk was diagnosed with Down Syndrome when she was born and suffered from heart problems as well. When she was just eight months old, doctors gave her a life expectancy of just 15 years. When John Silk and his wife separated, he only got to see his young daughter on the weekends, and after a while he realized it just was not enough for him and his family and decided to change that.
John had been running an employment agency for over 15 years in South London, and Vicky’s stepmother, Gerry, ran the personnel department of Europe’s second-largest department store with 1,700 people working as her subordinates, but they both walked away. They got part-time jobs that allowed them to see Vicky more often, and John sold his Porsche and soon was driving a bus on his daughter’s school route.
“We looked for lower-paid part-time jobs in newspapers and shop windows and then we were able to spend more time with Vicky. I got a job on the bus so I could see her every day. When she’d see me in the mornings she’d run down the road calling out to me then give me a hug.”
The family began employing a myriad of money-saving techniques, such as coupon clipping, learning to go without purchasing new clothes, and mending the old ones themselves to afford to travel. Silk, 55, also got a supermarket credit card that built up points so that he could get discounts. All of the savings his family wracks up now goes towards vacation trips for Vicky. In the past ten years, they have been on about 24 trips and traveled to 15 different countries.
Vicky is now 22 years old and has exceeded the original life expectancy that she was given. According to Daily Mail, the diagnosis she received at eight months is that of Eisenmenger’s Complex, which is a heart and lung condition.They advised that they could operate on her heart, but unfortunately there was only a 50 percent chance that she would survive the procedure. Without the surgery they estimated her life expectancy would only be 15 years. The family made the very difficult decision to not do the surgery, instead opting to make the most of the time they had with her.
However, when Vicky made it to 16 they conducted more tests at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. The nurse there informed them that Vicky would only live to about 35 or 40 years old. That doubled the previous life expectancy Vicky had been given and the family was ecstatic. Following this news, John Silk contacted a charity foundation called Dreams Come True in the hopes they could make one of Vicky’s biggest travel wishes come true — to see an active volcano. The charity helped them travel to Hawaii and take a wonderful helicopter ride over an active volcano.
Silk says that it takes months for his family to save enough to travel on these holidays, but it is worth it. As soon as they return from one trip, they begin planning another. As a reminder of her adventurous travels, Vicky has model aeroplanes in her bedroom; her father buys one for each flight they have taken. Mirror reports that Vicky has celebrated her birthday in places like Barbados and Thailand.
John Silk and his family want to be able to help other families in similar positions give the gift of the world to their children as well, and have become ambassadors for Dream Come True, helping with fundraisers and whatever else it takes to help sponsor persons so they would have experiences similar to what they have been able to give Vicky.
They prefer not to think of the time when they will lose Vicky, choosing instead to simply spend the time living life, being happy, and thinking of the beginnings yet to come.
You can view a library of pictures from Vicky’s trips at Daily Mail.
[Photo Courtesy of Stephen Finn / Shutterstock]