Miracle Camp, a labor of love

I spent Thursday morning at Sacred Heart’s Miracle Camp. My daughters Cat and Tricia, along with their husbands Mike and Tom and their friends, have put on a special summer camp for the past three years for kids suffering from arthritis. They even been able to enlist the help of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to help with the fun.

The camps, which have each had a different theme, are Cat’s idea. She took over the program and made it her mission to give these children an experience unlike any they’ve ever had. Cat is the perfect role model for them because she was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis at the end of her junior year of high school. In less than six months, she went from being an all Northwest Florida all-star basketball player to being unable to catch a basketball. Fortunately, thanks to the proper medication, she has been able to keep the RA in check, but she still has her bad days.

With the help of Mike (Ellis), Tricia and Tom (Coady), Cat has developed themes based on spies and Harry Potter. They even have been able to enlist the help of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to help with the fun.

This year, the Olympics are the theme. As part of the fun, I played the evil dictator of Isbadistan (Sacha Coehn without a beard, but with all the medals) who demanded the kids compete in only the games from my country–camel spitting, lizard kissing, barbwire hula hoops, etc. I was promptly kicked out of the camp.

Every year my daughters come home with stories from the camp. These kids have health challenges. There is a nurse on the camp staff. The boys and girls have dozens of medications that they have to take. Many come every year. Some may not live until the next session. It is, as I said, a very special camp.

Tricia shared last year this quote from a nine-year-old who was so happy and content after a busy day: “When I get to heaven, I’m going to take my medicine in Reese’s Cups.”

Yes, I teared up when she told me that story. I love my girls and their husbands. I’ve very proud of how they give back to the community. They are better people than me.