“Beyond Beautiful”: Carter’s Camp Riley story
My son Carter Patrick is one of a kind. He is almost 10 years old, and while all kids are made from their own special mold, Carter is truly an individual.
Carter has a chromosomal condition that is so rare there isn’t even a name for it. There is a partial trisomy of his 16th chromosome and a slight deletion of his fifth. Early on he faced more medical issues including seizures. His condition has left him non-verbal.
We don’t quite fit into the autism spectrum community, nor the Down Syndrome groups. Instead, we are often isolated and lonely, thrust into the role of accidental trailblazers.
A Rare and Exhilarating Adventure
With such an uncertain path, there aren’t many opportunities for Carter to just be a typical kid. Camp Riley has been one of these exhilarating experiences. It is beyond beautiful to see him have the chance to go off without us and have fun.
I love to see him gaining some independence and learning about life outside of the family that adores him so much. He gets to explore and be free from misunderstanding, judgment and ignorance.
Investing in Kids
This was Carter’s second year at Camp Riley. They have the most unbelievable staff! I was so touched and impressed at the attention to detail. Knowing that he was a returning camper, the staff made sure he got to stay in the same cabin as he did last year so he would be more comfortable.
They invested time in getting to know Carter so they could help him blossom. They even pulled out the guide I had made last year about Carter’s own personal sign language!
Joy Beyond Words
When camp was over, I was worried about how I would know whether Carter had really enjoyed himself since he is non-verbal. But when the staff informed me that he was doing his famous “jump and spin” move, I knew that he had loved his experience. He normally doesn’t like to sleep away from home, but he adored Camp Riley.
A Remarkable Gift
Camp Riley is very affordable for families like ours thanks to donors who support Camp through Riley Children’s Foundation. There is a sliding scale depending on each family’s income and circumstances. Expenses for therapies, medical bills, medications and durable equipment can rapidly drain a family’s resources, and we are still on a wait list for a waiver to help us with Carter’s needs. The extra expense that Camp Riley absorbs for each child is a truly remarkable gift.
We feel so blessed by what Camp Riley has offered to Carter, and to us. We have a supportive family, but it has been uplifting for us to have a little break, knowing how much fun Carter is having and what great care he is receiving.
Thank you, Camp Riley, from my family and me, but mostly from an uncommon little boy who jumps in joyful circles when he has had the time of his sweet life.
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