November 21, 2006 > Camp Taylor: Haven for healing hearts
Camp Taylor: Haven for healing hearts
by Pushpa Warrier
Jeremy Martin was born with congenital heart disease. He has survived four open heart surgeries and is now 9 years old. He is doing very well and loves to be active as much as he can. This last summer he had a chance to attend heart camp for the first time.
“It was so much fun. I met kids that were just like me. We had the same scars. We all got tired easily, but tried to keep going. We also experienced new things together,” Jeremy said. “This was the best experience for me and I want to go every year.”
The camp he is referring to is a free summer camp called Camp Taylor, run by doctors, nurses and parent volunteers and entirely funded by donations. Jeremy is now trying to raise money to help support this camp by starting his own web page at www.firstgiving.com/jeremymartin.
Jeremy is looking for a company or organization to match his intended goal of $5000 by February 14, which coincides with Valentine's Day and Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Day. He is doing this so “new friends and I can continue to have this time together.”
Christie Martin, Jeremy’s mother, said that it was hard for her to be away from her son, but that is was the best thing for him. “When he left, I cried and when I saw him after the five days, I cried. They were happy tears.”
His father Randall was a camp counselor when Jeremy attended. “I was happy being able to be a part of making the kids happy. As a father of a child with heart disease, it made me proud to see my son gain confidence and friendship from his experience.” He feels that Camp Taylor “was one of the most fulfilling times in my life.”
With a mission to “create positive experiences in the lives of children with heart disease,” Camp Taylor is an effort to bring children with heart disease together in a fun camp environment. Often these children have endured several open heart surgeries and long hospital stays. They are limited physically, take numerous medications, have short life expectancies and unanswered medical questions. At Camp Taylor, they learn that they are not alone. The campers grow physically, emotionally and mentally while making friends with kids like themselves during each camp session. Camp Taylor is staffed around the clock with a complete cardiac volunteer team of highly trained professionals including pediatric cardiologists and several pediatric nurses.
Founded by Kimberlie Gamino whose own son, Taylor, was born with hypo-plastic right heart syndrome 11 years ago. “My world as I knew it, stopped. Taylor has endured four open heart surgeries and a stroke. The pediatric intensive care unit was an all too familiar place for our family,” she said.
Kimberlie had come to realize that she would never know how strong or how long her son’s heart would last. Because of her first-hand experience, she felt that she could offer something to help children suffering from heart disease and their families by starting Camp Taylor. “The programs that we offer through Camp Taylor, Inc., are the result of a mother’s love for her son, blessings from God, the support of an awesome community and the desire to help children in need,” she said.
Kids like Jeremy have benefited from the program in many ways. “I felt normal for once and I would like to go back every year if I can. At school, the kids don't understand but at Camp Taylor we all have a lot in common.”
For more information on how to become involved, contact Kimberlie Gamino at (209) 545-4715 or Christie Martin at (510) 673-3389. Information on how to register a child can be obtained at www.kidsheartcamp.org.