This coming Saturday, March 26th, I officially leave behind the year of mastery. The big 33. I’m not sure exactly where this year of mastery stems from, or how so many people seemed to know about it. I know jesus was 33 when he died, he preformed 33 miracles, 33 is the numerical representation of the star of David AND the numerical equivalent of Amen. However, none of this really proves why 33 did end up being a year in which all hell broke loose in my life, indeed seeming to require a certain mastery of skills to survive. But so it goes, as we must say sometimes in life: “eh, details”.
I decided that this year, I wanted to do something different for my birthday… something for somebody other than myself. I feel as if there has been a lot about me lately, and to be honest, I’m kinda over it. In fact, even better than somebody, let’s make it about a LOT of bodies. And lets make it about about LIFE. And lets make it about LOVE. AND AND AND let’s make it about young people who deserve to have their LIVES filled to the brim with LOVE.
Last summer, my brother and I attended the Paddy Rossbach Youth Amputee Camp as camp counselors. For those of you who don’t know, my incredible younger brother is a bilateral, above the knee amputee. If you aren’t familiar with his story you can read more about it here. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly how we first made contact with the Amputee Coalition(they put on the camp), but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with my mom…. as pretty much everything always does. I believe there were a couple years of back and forth, but after much scheduling and patience on the part of the amazing people at the Youth Camp… Yours truly and her younger amputee bro became the “COUNSELORS KAJLICH”.
I don’t think either of us knew what to expect. We certainly were excited and eager to help out, but nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to experience. Two days of counselor training later and we were at the airport waiting to greet the campers as they arrived for camp. I remember feeling a bit like my first day of high school freshman year. What if they didn’t like me? Kids have a funny way of reading you straight out the gate… if it’s fake, they’ll smell it on you. Not that I have a problem relating to the younger set… I mean c’mon, I’m basically still 5 in this heart o’mine. But, somehow this whole scenario was different. It was important to me that they got that I wasn’t there to pretend like I understood what they might be going through. I mean lord, the teenage years are hard enough without having to deal with the fact that parts of your body are missing. My only experience is through that of my brother, and I have never assumed that to be the sister of an amputee is to understand what it’s like to actually be one. Turns out, I was completely over thinking this entire thing.
From the minute those kids filed into the waiting area at the airport, to the moment that I left Camp Joy with tears streaming, I was blown away by the smiles, laughter, courage, strength, positivity, humor, lack of judgment, selflessness, and LOVE. These kids taught me more about myself in 4 days than I have been able to wrap my head and heart around in years. This is the first time that many of these kids have been in the company of other amputees. Some of them are dealing with horrific, life threatening illnesses that have resulted in amputations. Many of them have survived terrible accidents and injuries that have left them scarred and forever changed. And yet after a day or so… I didn’t even SEE their disabilities any more. I saw KIDS. I saw incredible, loving, open hearted kids. I write so much here about keeping your heart open when everything else is telling you to shut it down… and this, THIS is the true life example. Some of them told me awful stories about kids back home taunting and bullying them. One girl with an amputated leg told me how kids in her class would steal her prosthetic leg and hide it from her. That broke my heart. And yet these beautiful, open hearted souls come to camp and sing and dance and play and talk about their experiences so honestly and without pitying themselves. I feel like I can do anything because they can and do. I feel like I waste so much time and energy worrying about silly little stupid things and here are these kids who have every right to complain and moan and they don’t. They’re too busy living life and planning their next big adventure….
In honor of these incredible dear hearts, I am asking all of you to help give them the gift of a week at camp. You may be helping a young amputee return to a place that helps them garner strength for the times when they aren’t surrounded by others just like them. You could be sending a child who has just lost a limb into an experience where they get to see others who are doing, and being, and thriving. Instilling within them the belief that this isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a whole new universe. You are without a doubt supporting someone who will go on to inspire others to believe that they too, can do anything. They have already inspired me.
It’s my 34th birthday. I am asking you to help me raise $34,000 in just 6 days. We can do this. Donate whatever you can… even $5 helps. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
To donate click here
To read more about the camp click here
To visit my brother’s site click here
Thank you for supporting me, and for supporting a cause that I can personally say from experience is beyond deserving of our attention.
Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does Anything weird,
But the God who knows only 4 words.
And keeps repeating them, saying “Come Dance with Me ,