My relationship to Children’s National began at the age of 18 months when I was admitted to the hospital with a high fever, labored breathing and fluid surrounding my heart. This childhood virus left me with a rare condition called idiopathic diabetes insipidus which has required daily medication and years of annual MRIs to assess for a possible brain tumor. Little did I know that my relationship with Children’s would continue for the next 20 years, when the summer camp my family ran for children with epilepsy would become part of the hospital and grow into the Brainy Camps of Children’s National.
Brainy Camps was an amazing training ground where I spent every summer of my youth, sharing hours of fun, unforgettable stories and hundreds of tears with the many children diagnosed with chronic health disorders who attended our camps. Although I had a few seizures before the age of three, at the age of four, I saw my first seizure at Camp Great Rock, a camp for kids with epilepsy and understood the feeling of helplessness. At five, I was put into a bunk with a group of girls with epilepsy and spent my first week away from the ever watchful eyes of my parents. At 15, I was made part of the logistics team and learned the importance of planning, preparing and executing activities. And, at 16, I became a counselor-in-training so I could learn how to supervise a bunk.
Over the years, I have met the most remarkable doctors, nurses and volunteers who generously give their time and expertise each summer. I watched campers grow from sad and lonely children into amazing, self-confident young adults. And I gained a tremendous appreciation for the importance of support, acceptance, and hope in creating resilient young adults who live life to its fullest no matter what challenges they face.
Watching campers connect to others with the same condition, develop life-long friendships and become part of a community where everyone is accepted and encouraged to grow is powerful. It helped me to determine my career path as a pediatric nurse, with hopes of continuing my role as a staff member of the camps for many years to come.
As for the Race for the Child, I am running the race to raise camper scholarship funds and camp development so every child who can benefit from our camps is able to attend. Every child should know what it is like to be part of a community and there is no better place for this to happen then at Brainy Camps of Children’s National.
Thanks for reading my story and helping me to raise funds for the kids of Brainy Camps.
Please help us to reach our goal. Every dollar helps!!