Volunteers Still Needed in Many States
TUCSON, Ariz., June 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Muscular Dystrophy Association has announced that more than 4,100 youngsters with muscular dystrophy and related muscle diseases will attend weeklong MDA summer camp sessions between now and late-August.
"MDA summer camp is the highlight of the summer for thousands of children with neuromuscular diseases across the country, and it's my pleasure to acknowledge the start of our 57th camp season," said MDA Interim President and Medical Director Valerie Cwik, M.D. "Having been a camp volunteer myself, I know firsthand how important MDA camp is to families who have children with muscular dystrophy. And without the generosity of volunteers and sponsors throughout the country, it wouldn't be possible for MDA to offer such an amazing week for the kids."
The camps — 77 in all — are funded entirely by public contributions made to MDA year-round. It costs MDA an average of $800 per camper to send a child with neuromuscular disease to camp. There is no cost to families for their child to attend MDA summer camp.
MDA camps are a magical place offering a wide variety of activities specifically designed for young people who have mobility challenges. It's long been described as the "best week of the year" by both campers and volunteers who have attended.
"I'm always excited about camp, and about seeing all my friends there again," said Noah Spencer, an Arizona MDA goodwill ambassador and camper. "I can't say that there's just one favorite part of camp. We play wheelchair soccer, swim, dance, participate in a talent show, horseback ride and more."
Since 1955, thousands of campers have participated in the barrier-free camps every year, indelibly shaping camper's lives.
"My camp experience was the single most influential thing in my life — it completely molded me into the woman that I am today," said Angela Wrigglesworth, a Houston-area teacher who attended MDA summer camp for 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s. Wrigglesworth has type 2 spinal muscular atrophy. "I looked like every other kid there instead of the one who stood out in the crowd. The freedom just to be myself was priceless."
That freedom often manifests itself beyond camp and translates into life lessons, said Jodi Wolff, MDA's director of clinical services and summer camp, who also is a former MDA camp volunteer.
"At camp, the kids have the opportunity to try many new activities, and are paired one-on-one with their own camp counselor for the week," Wolff said. "The result is increased independence and self-esteem, and friendships that last a lifetime. It is our honor and privilege to provide them with such an important and life-changing experience."
Nearly 5,000 volunteers throughout the country are needed to help this summer. The Association is still recruiting volunteer counselors, 16 and older, for camps in late June, July and August. Counselors help with daily activities such as eating, bathing and dressing and with recreational activities. To volunteer at a camp near you, contact the MDA office near you by visiting the MDA website at mda.org/locate.
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.
In addition to funding some 300 research teams worldwide, MDA maintains a national network of 200 medical clinics, and facilitates hundreds of support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases. For more information, visit mda.org.
SOURCE Muscular Dystrophy Association