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Little Girl Takes the Ultimate Adventure With the Help of Expedia and Virtual Reality

Kiara, a little girl battling a brain tumor, and Sara, an employee of travel website Expedia, formed a unique partnership in October 2015. Kiara spent a lot of time in St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis undergoing treatment, while Sara is a five-year brain tumor survivor. The two went on an incredible journey of wonder, discovery and healing thanks to the latest virtual reality technology.

The Plan

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Kiara loves horses. She draws them, colors pictures of them and plays with plastic toys that look like real horses. However, she can't get out and ride the real thing because of her medical condition. Sara, with the help of her employer, got to travel to Córdoba, Argentina, to see the wild horses that roam the vast plains of this South American country. Sara got to take Kiara with her as she experienced the wonders of wild horses.

The plan worked because of virtual reality technology. A company called 360 Media set up a special movie theater in the Memphis facility to provide 360-degree views, including up to the ceiling and the floor. Kids got to sit in the middle of the action as pictures were beamed from special 360-degree cameras in remote locations. Satellite technology and wireless Internet connections made this interactive dream possible.

Childlike Wonderment

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Kiara got to reach out to a screen and “pet” a horse at the same time Sara put her hand on a horse during the adventure. In the background of the shot, the wild expanse of Argentina played out before her. Sara captured footage of a herd of horses thundering off in the distance.

St. Jude's and Expedia discovered that many children have dreams of traveling to other places around the world. Four Expedia workers, including Sara, brought four children the experience of a lifetime. One employee went scuba diving off the coast of Mexico, while another went on an archaeological dig for dinosaurs in Argentina. Both Expedia and St. Jude's feel these adventures represent wonderful ways to bring joy to children's lives as they go through scary times.

St. Jude Dream Adventures

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Expedia, St. Jude's and 360 Media call the program St. Jude Dream Adventures. The project took nearly a year to implement, and the success of the program, due in part to a longstanding collaboration between St. Jude's and Expedia, has led these organizations to try to develop a permanent theater at the Memphis facility. Bringing happiness to children can inspire them to overcome anything, which is what these dream adventures try to do.

Check out the video below to learn more!

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