Mokule'ia kids' camp could use some help
Two years ago, thieves broke into the campers' gear at Mokule'ia. Last year, the Mainland counselors got stuck with useless airline tickets when ATA shut down. This year, Camp Taylor, the only camp for kids with congenital heart defects, is struggling along again. This time, of course, it's the economy.
"We're having a hard time getting businesses to support and sponsor camp," said Jullie Passos, mother of 11-year old Keegan, who was born with a heart condition that has necessitated a lifetime of surgeries, procedures and trips to the emergency room. Congenital heart defects affect thousands of children. Though many children survive and thrive, it can be a rough road. Camp Taylor is a chance for these kids to be with others who have walked the same path. There is the peace of understanding and the strength of acceptance.
"Daily life can be very challenging for Keegan, but Camp Taylor is one of the things in his life that he really counts on and I wish I could tell him that it will always be there," Passos said.
Camp Taylor is based in California, and the staff and mentors — older kids who have been through the rigors of surgeries and hospitalizations — travel to O'ahu to run the camp for Hawai'i kids. The bonds formed run deep. When Keegan had to go to San Diego for a surgery last year, some Camp Taylor mentors took it upon themselves to meet him there.
"They drove 8 hours from where they live to spend the entire week with our family," Passos said. "They spent most of their money on gas and they were planning on eating dry saimin for most of their meals!"
One of the teens asked to be the one to hold Keegan during the pre-op procedures.
"He held Keegan through the gas masking of anesthesia," Passos said. "I just can't describe in words what we all felt. As a mother who is usually the one to hold my son until he falls asleep, I stepped back and felt so much love for this teenager. I could never have given Keegan that moment because I've never had heart surgery. It meant the world to my son to have them there."
Passos and other parents and children of Kapi'olani's Kardiac Kids support group are trying to raise $17,000 for the camp. It sounds like a lot, but last year, when the airline abruptly shut down, Kardiac Kids raised more than that in two weeks with garage sales, recycling and coin drives.
Camp Taylor Hawaii is scheduled for June 24 to 27. If you would like to make a donation to Camp Taylor Hawaii, you can go to www.firstgiving.com/kardiackids or contact Jullie Passos at firstname.lastname@example.org or 227-4558.
Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or email@example.com.