The Difference One Camp Can Make
The lure of a Camp Get A-Well-A carnival was just what the doctor ordered, as 11-year-old Gabby walked for the first time in 4 DAYS!! Up until that carnival, Gabby's illness left her weak and confined to a wheelchair, but the events going on down the hall from her hospital bed offered too much excitement to keep Gabby down.
Brittney … Creating Joyful Memories
Brittney was a 14-year-old cancer patient who spent the last several months of her life in Philadelphia Children's Hospital. During her time in the hospital, Brittney participated in Camp Get-A-Well-A's Teen Survivor night. The campers were divided into "tribes", pizza was delivered, and the laughter and joking began. For a brief moment, Brittney got the chance to behave like a typical teen girl..Despite the nausea that made her unable to eat pizza and cake like the others, during the secret auction, she bid on very small items, strategizing that the wrapped prizes might be makeup, a DVD or video game. She laughed, sang, competed and enjoyed every minute of Teen Survivor especially when her tribe, the "Cubbies," won the competition and retreated to their "cabins" for the evening. According to her mother, Camp Get-A-Well-A's Survivor was the most fun Brittney had experienced in more than four months.
Three days after camp week ended, the Camp Get-A-Well-A staff received a phone call from the hospital requesting pictures from Teen Survivor night. The hospital staff was putting together a memorial for Brittney's family, as she had passed away over the weekend. We suddenly realized how important it had been for Camp Get-A-Well-A to be at the hospital that week. We helped fill Brittney's last days with fun, and created joyful memories her parents will never forget.
Keeping Dallas' Smile Afloat
Dallas was born at Philadelphia Children's Hospital with major health complications that required 24-hour care. The hospital staff was the only family he ever knew. Dallas was a veteran of Camp Get-A-Well-A, attending camp four out of the six years of his life. With his physical limitations, Dallas could not sing, play, do crafts, or speak, and it was rare to see him smile or interact with other children.
Dallas' first and only "canoe trip" came while floating in the hospital therapy pool at Camp Get-A-Well-A in 2004. The canoe ride brought a faint, but evident smile to Dallas' face -- the first time any of the staff had witnessed him smiling. He didn't want the ride to end, as volunteers pushed his canoe back and forth in the pool. Everyone could tell what he was feeling, even though he would never be able to say it.
Peter's T-Shirt Treatment
On August 17, 2006, a beautiful, energetic four-year-old named Peter was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects infants and children. Peter's treatment began the day after his diagnosis and has included 3 major surgeries, high-dose chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, radiation, and antibody treatment.
Peter has responded well to the treatments so far, and the scans look clear. After suffering a very scary setback in August of 2007, Peter started antibody treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York in an attempt to prevent relapse. He continues to travel there every 3 months for testing and for antibody treatment.
"Peter still has (and wears) the t-shirt he received at Camp Get-A-Well-A in January of 2007," said Peter's mom, Erika. "He also has his pillow and remembers the zoo coming to the hospital. Those were some long days – weeks - months in the hospital, and you brightened them so much!"
Robert's Rain Stick
Eight-year-old, Robert, was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. During his stay, Camp Get-A-Well-A visited the hospital and Robert got to participate in two days of camp activities. On the second day, Robert's physician informed him that he was being discharged and could leave the hospital at any time. Robert, engrossed with his Camp Get-A-Well-A craft, said, "I can't leave yet, I'm making a rain stick!" Even during that short stay, Camp Get-A-Well-A had managed to turn a cold, sterile hospital into a fun-filled place that made Robert feel better.
Nadirah - "Big" Little Sister
Nadirah, age 9, was hit by a car walking across the street on her way home from school in the Fall of 2006. Nadirah suffered a broken left femur, internal injuries and severe head and neck trauma. Since her accident, she has endured numerous surgeries to repair her leg and reduce swelling in her brain. Over the past 10 months, Nadirah has spent more time in Phoenix Children's Hospital than out of it. Thankfully she is recovering from all her injuries and her prognosis for full recovery is good. The stress on her family has been enormous, but with the help and encouragement of her brothers, Nadirah is working hard at her school work and physical therapy.
Nadirah is a very motivated camper, and she participated in almost every activity during Camp Get-A-Well-A week last year. Her favorite was the camp Carnival. She invited her brothers to come join her for the Carnival and they had a great time together. Nadirah told Camp Get-A-Well-A, "This was the best time I've ever had in the hospital!"