Camp Starlite makes summer camp a reality for children with neuromuscular diseases
Summertime is well underway, which means kids are enjoying their time out of school. One of the most popular activities is summer camp.
However, for children suffering from neuromuscular diseases, summer camp might seem like something of a dream. Well the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) started up Camp Starlite to make that dream a reality.
"It's definitely something that we look forward to," said George, Camp Starlite camper.
George and fellow camper Trevor have been friends since they met at Camp Starlite out at Camp Grant Walker nine years ago. They've been going every year since.
"We started swapping cell phone numbers,” said George. “I probably called him 100 times until today."
Camp Starlite is for children ages six through 17 that have neuromuscular diseases. The goal is to allow them to participate in summer camp activities, regardless of what their bodies are able to do.
"We get a football game," said Trevor.
"We get to fish, and go swimming every day," said George.
"Ride horses," added Trevor.
"Arts and crafts,” continued George. “Everything that normal kids get to do but they just make it to where we can do it."
MDA said there's many different types of neuromuscular diseases, but Camp Starlite is barrier free.
"We have all kind of activities that are adapted to different levels and types of neuromuscular disease,” explained Charly LaCroix. “So every kid is able to participate in every activity."
But they said it would be nothing without their volunteers.
"We have a lot of people who spend a lot of time year round to make this possible," said LaCroix.
One of those volunteers is the Pineville Fire Department Local 1384. They spent the first day cooking for the campers. The camp did start on Father's Day, so Local 1384 brought their families out so they could spend the day with them while they cooked for the campers.
"This is the first meal that they get when they get here,” said Dustin Schneider, Local 1384 President. “So being the closest to the camp we feel obligated."
More than just providing a meal, Local 1384 also collects money for MDA with their annual boot drives. This year they collected more than $14,100.
"You know we see their struggles and what they go through in life and we just want to do what we can to help,” expressed Schneider. “What little bit this is, you know they're the real heroes. We're nothing. Those kids are way stronger than we'll ever be.
It's money that keeps the kids in high spirits.
"If we can just make sure these kids have their best week,” said LaCroix. “That's what we want out of this really."
And also brings MDA closer to a cure; so that one day there won't be a need for Camp Starlite.
"We just want to work ourselves out of a job and out of a camp,” expressed LaCroix. “That's the hope."