Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman's Florida Connection

The world lost a generous man this weekend when Paul Newman died. There is a shining example of his generosity right here in Florida, in the little town of Eustis. It's Camp Boggy Creek, Florida's camp for seriously ill children and one of the Hole in the Wall Gang camps that Newman founded.

I'm a volunteer for the camp and have had the privilege of seeing just how much of an impact Newman made when he founded Camp Boggy Creek. Children whose entire lives have been a series of hospital stays, who've never been able to attend a slumber party because they require too many medications to sleep away from home for the night. Children who've never been able to swim because they have limited mobility or because they have Sickle Cell and can't tolerate changes in body temperature. Children who've always been the one kid in the room who's "different." Mothers and fathers who haven't had a "date night" since their child was born because of the medical needs of their child. They all get to kick back, have fun and forget about the stresses of everyday life.

I've seen kids swim for the first time ever. I've seen kids get in a canoe and go fishing who've never held a fishing pole. I've seen kids make instant, lifelong friendships with other kids who truly get them, who understand what they go through because they go through it, too. And from a distance, they all look like your average everyday kid, riding a horse, singing camp songs, performing skits, and just being silly.

Camp Boggy Creek makes all these things happen because they have an on-site medical center, round-the-clock doctor and nurse care, and facilities designed to meet the special needs of kids with cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, sickle cell, asthma, spina bifida and heart/lung disease. And families never pay a dime for their kids to attend this magical summer camp for a week or the weekend camps throughout the year. It's all covered by donors.

Camp Boggy Creek doesn't just change the lives of the children and families who attend the camp sessions. It changes the lives of the people who volunteer and support it through their time, talents and resources. I know. I'm one of those people. And a very lucky mom to have four healthy, happy kids.

Thank you Paul Newman!

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