Letter from a Variety family...
My 13 year old daughter, Sarah, has Cerebral Palsy. It is the type that affects all of her extremities, the kind that made her doctors say that walking would never be a functional skill for her, the kind that placed her in a power wheelchair where it was assumed that she would stay for the rest of her life.
Last summer, Sarah attended the Variety Camp. When I dropped her off at the beginning of camp, I explained to her counselors that although a walker was included with her equipment, it was not really a functional way for Sarah to be mobile. At best, she could take a few steps with maximum hands-on assistance. I had said it would be nice for her to practice with it while at camp, if they had the time and if Sarah felt up for it. I was more concerned that she have a good time and feel "normal." (When you have an extremely limited peer group all year, the chance just to be with and socialize with other children who are like you and understand where you are coming from and where you want to go is more valuable than I have words to describe.)
I'm not sure exactly how the miracle unfolded over the summer… I know it was in a great part due to the dedicated Camp staff. Never had I met a group of more encouraging and compassionate young people. I'm sure having peer support and encouragement also played a large role, as well as the facility and camp programming itself. In the end it was indeed a miracle, for when I came to pick Sarah up from camp she WALKED up to me. Yes, she was using her walker independently. No one was balancing her, guiding her or helping her move her legs, she was truly walking on her own. The Camp had accomplished what 12 years of physical therapy, multiple surgeries, and endless hours of in home practice had failed to do.
I can never say thank you enough to Variety – The Children’s Charity for what you have given Sarah and our family.
--Tammy Stainaker, Mother of Sarah
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