30 Days of MD: MDA Summer Camp

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by Ralph Yaniz |

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Day 9 of #30daysofMD @leah_lani_may story: The first time I attended MDA Summer Camp I was 10 years old. I had only just been diagnosed with Mitochondrial Myopathy Muscular Dystrophy one year earlier. It would be my first time being away from my parents for a whole week which was a bit of a scary thought. Thankfully, I wouldn’t be alone. I had met met this girl named Holly at an MDA event the winter prior and it was her first time going to camp too. Before we knew it, the day had arrived to load our bags and wheelchairs onto the bus that would take us to camp. A couple hours later, we pulled up to a beautiful campsite in Palmdale, California, that is, if you could call it a campsite. 12 wheelchair accessible cabins lined the upper part of a hill with a wooden building overlooking a lake that was the mess hall. To the left sat a small hospital in the shape of a turtle (The camp was called The Painted Turtle), next to it stood the gymnasium and beside that a whale shaped pool with a built-in ramp. Those next four days were filled to the brim with non-stop fun and activities. We forgot all about our diseases as we rode horses, swam in the pool and sang songs by the campfire. Not once did we face problems of inaccessibility because everything was handicap accessible. Lifelong friendships were built and memories made. The nurses delivered each of us our medicine and our counselors made sure we were all taken care of. One of my all- time favorite memories was of what we all called Silly Olympics. A day where we all gathered on the grass to throw oatmeal, paint and other goop at each other only to be hosed of by the local fire department. Don’t worry, we had all transfer out of our precious wheelchairs. That summer I had also just received my very first power wheelchair so all my camp mates taught me how to drive it! It’s no wonder why each MDA camper counts down the days when they can once again attend summer camp.

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