MDA Camp: A Magical place where kids can be kids

9:41 PM, Sep 3, 2010   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) -- Nothing lifts your spirits quite like lifting someone else's. That's what they do every day for a week at MDA Camp.

"I find out I can do things here that I never knew I could do," says 13-year-old camper Madison Lawson.

Whether it's riding a horse for the first time or taking a dip in the pool. There is one simple reason for being here.

"We get to do a lot of fun stuff," says seven-year-old camper Jackson Callaway.

Callaway has something called Mitochondrial Disease, which doesn't allow your body to function as it should. But that's all forgotten at camp.

"He's just like any other kid. He likes to run around and play. He acts crazy," says Beth King, Jackson's counselor.

This is Jackson's first year at camp but Sam Thebeau, Jonathan Tessmer and Jake Vollmer are camp veterans.

"The three stooges," says head counselor Ron Bristow.

When they were first year campers, talking to them was always humbling. These days their target is their counselor.

"He picked up something," says Sam. "It happened to be a cockroach and he squished it in his hands and screamed like a little girl."

When Bristow, a firefighter volunteered to be a counselor, he thought it would be for one year. That was 19 years ago. He says he keeps comes coming back for the kids, but for their parents too.

"This is a hard job to take care of these kids. 24 hours, 7 days a week," he says. "So they get a nice break and I get to have fun with their kids for a week."

As one MDA camper once put it, what I love about this place no one laughs when I fall down. One of the toughest things for any kids is being different than the other kids. That's especially true for kids with MD.

"Always standing out because of my wheelchair. I would rather stand out because of who I am," says Lawson.

And that's what MDA camp is all about. Letting kids be kids for a week of memories than can a lifetime.


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