Jun 7, 2021 - Business
How a Tampa entrepreneur wants to use virtual reality to help sick kids
Chris Vasilakis with a propeller plane he flew at Atlas Aviation in Tampa. PIcture: Selene San Felice/Axios

If you tell Chris Vasilakis he can't do something, he'll find a way.

The state of play: When the coronavirus pandemic upended everyday life, the 40-year-old Tampa resident used virtual reality to find solutions.

  • His company, Guided Virtual Tours, made headlines for allowing people to get immersive real estate tours when it wasn't safe to do so in person.
  • "I'm all about finding opportunities to solve problems. With virtual reality, you can transport places from one place to another. And I thought what problems can we solve with that? I saw the opportunity and I became obsessed," he told Axios.

Another (fun) example: He didn't get to fly planes when he served in the Marine Corps, so he learned to fly them on his own at Atlas Aviation in Tampa.

  • Soon, he wants to move from propeller planes to fighter jets.

What's next: His other VR venture, Virtual Recess Foundation, gives children in the hospital the chance to go anywhere and live their dreams.

  • The experiences include driving exotic cars, riding roller coasters and meeting Lego Batman.
  • Vasilakis wants to expand it to include more celebrity and sports experiences along with everyday life like playing at the park or a trip to the beach.
  • Kids at Nicklaus Children's Hospital and Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in South Florida are piloting the program before Vasilakis takes it nationwide.

His bottom line: "Make-A-Wish can grant one wish to one kid. We can grant every wish to every kid."

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