Honoring Our Very Best!
In addition to reconnecting with old friends and comparing tacky sweaters at our annual holiday gathering, we took a moment to reflect on the tremendous contributions of our volunteers. We are immensely grateful for the dedication and support of each and every one of our volunteers and are especially proud to present two individuals with tokens of our appreciation.
Dr. Stephen Anderson Medical Volunteer of the Year Award
Jordana Heaven, M.D.
Jordana Heaven, M.D., was a pediatrics resident at Emory University when she joined the medical committee preparing for Camp Kudzu’s first summer session. Having attended summer camps as a child and worked as a counselor at a diabetes camp during medical school, Dr. Heaven immediately found her place within the emerging Kudzu community. Twenty-four years later, she has never missed a summer, and she is the first recipient of the Dr. Stephen Anderson Medical Volunteer of the Year Award.
“I was in complete and utter shock and am so honored to have been chosen,” Dr. Heaven said. “Kudzu is impactful for everyone associated with it, from the skills we’re teaching the campers and the connections they’re able to make so they don’t feel alone in all of this, to even the adult volunteers, those with and without type 1 diabetes.”
Each summer, Dr. Heaven brings her medical expertise and love of tie-dye to the Kudzu session at Camp Barney Medintz. During the other 51 weeks of the year, she is a general pediatrician in Woodstock, GA.
“Even though it’s different from my regular job, it’s what my soul needs for the rest of the year,” she said, reflecting on the magic of that week away every summer. “We’re never going to be too old for this.”
Eloise Lemons Volunteer of the Year Award
Teresa Tucker, Ph.D.
When Teresa Tucker, Ph.D., first began volunteering with Camp Kudzu, she “knew relatively little about T1D.” With an M.S. in science, therapeutic recreation/recreational therapy, and a Ph.D. in parks, recreation, and leisure studies, plus experience running a camp for children with disabilities, Dr. Tucker came to Kudzu with a profound understanding of the power of camp programming.
“I feel like my connection to this cause came about and grew because of my volunteer experience at Kudzu that first summer. Since day one, the Kudzu community of volunteers and campers has embraced me as one of their own,” she said. “Making friendships with the other volunteers and developing connections with campers living with T1D made this cause personal.”
Since her first summer as a volunteer in 2011, whether leading songs or filling water coolers, Dr. Tucker has never hesitated to jump in wherever she’s needed. With her wealth of knowledge, passion for camp and a seemingly endless supply of Clemson T-shirts, she is this year’s deserving recipient of the Eloise Lemons Volunteer of the Year Award.
“Camp Kudzu is so much more than a camp for youth living with T1D. It is an organization that is dedicated to youth thriving with T1D,” she said. “I mean, thriving in every sense of the word. Thriving with managing their T1D but also thriving in their social and emotional well-being. Thriving in making connections with others. Thriving in their independence and becoming the best versions of themselves.”