W. SCOTT RICHARDS
When Zharia was diagnosed at 7, it was a major shock. Initially, we wondered what limitations type 1 diabetes would place on her dreams and goals. How does an otherwise healthy and active young child deal with all that comes with this disease? More importantly, how do we, as parents, support her, encourage her, and make things as normal as possible?
We had the benefit of wonderful family and friends around us, but no one could relate from Zharia’s perspective. At the age of 7, she had to explain to her friends what diabetes was, how it affected her, and that it was not contagious. We couldn’t fully grasp the impact of her friends’ parents, who no longer felt comfortable with her sleeping over because of the responsibility of helping her with diabetes management. We learned about Camp Kudzu soon after Zharia was diagnosed and she was able to get into a slot at Camp Barney Medintz the next year. Dropping her off was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Then there was the guilt of the relief I felt midway through the week after having a few days of sleeping through the night for the first time in months without midnight blood sugar checks or early morning lows.
At pickup time, we realized the impact camp had on Zharia. She was happy to see us, but equally disappointed that camp was over. To hear her talk about how much fun she had with other kids and how she felt normal again was more beneficial than we ever imagined. Her new sense of independence and confidence after just one week was amazing. It was as if she emerged from camp a different person. This was repeated year after year for the next 10 years of camp and through the Counselor In Training Program.
So it was not a difficult decision for me to accept an appointment to the board of directors, join the development committee, and co-chair the annual golf tournament. I get the opportunity to work alongside some of the most committed, giving, and passionate people I have ever experienced for a common cause. Camp Kudzu’s mission and what it means to the children and families we serve must be expanded to reach communities that are under-supported and I will do my part to make sure this happens. I feel that I am obligated to try to give as many families as possible the same experience and benefits that we have gotten from camp. We are truly blessed to have had the benefit of Camp Kudzu. This is why I support Camp Kudzu. This is why I encourage everyone within my sphere of influence to learn of the good we do and support our mission of Educating, Empowering and Inspiring kids living with T1D.