Gather around the campfire with us and let us tell you a story of courage, hope and inspiration.

Meet Freddy

You never want to hear a doctor say your child is sick. You never want your calendar to have more medical appointments than play dates. It happened to us in 2011 when my son Freddy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He was 8 years old.

Carb counting, sugar level checking, and insulin injecting became our new life. We live in a small town. Freddy is the only child with type 1 diabetes at his school. He felt different and started to withdraw. He lost many of his friends and even stopped doing some of the things he once enjoyed. Freddy didn’t know how to accept his new life. He felt alone.

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Everything changed when Freddy attended Camp Soaring Eagle. Camp helped Freddy discover who he is with diabetes. He learned that he is still a kid who can have loads of fun. The kids at Camp understood him because EVERY kid there was coping with the same disease. He never feels like an outsider at Camp Soaring Eagle – he is a member of the Camp Soaring Eagle family.

At Camp, Freddy gained a sense of self-worth and learned to view his disease from a new perspective. The friendships he made at Camp will last a lifetime. At Camp Soaring Eagle, Freddy became our happy child again – a child who confidently embraces living with diabetes.

This dramatic change in my son’s life and outlook would not have happened without the support of donors like you. As we approach the summer camp season, please join me in supporting Camp Soaring Eagle. A gift in any amount will help kids like Freddy go to Camp. It will bring smiles back to their faces and the sound of laughter back to their homes.

The thing that I love most about Freddy is his strength and courage to push through the roughest moments. He is our ray of sunshine.

Marian Mendez

P.S. What is Freddy up to these days? He can’t wait to go to Camp, of course. He hopes that one day he can become a camp volunteer and help change the life of a child with type 1 diabetes.

[/expand] Marian Mendez

Camper Parent

Meet Heidi

Heidi’s parents were told that her allergies were “no big deal.” It wasn’t until a birthday party landed Heidi in the ER that they found out she had been suffering with severe asthma.

Heidi Michelle Huston was born August 24, 2007 in Mesa, Arizona. She was delivered cesarean, after which she was immediately whisked away, as the doctors felt that her lungs were not as strong as they’d like to see them. It was four agonizing hours (it seemed like an eternity) before they would finally place her in my arms.

[expand title=”Read More” swaptitle=”Read Less”] img-heidi-huston-01 In December of that same year, her doctor said that she might have to spend Christmas in the hospital, as she had contracted Respiratory Syncytial Virus, a condition that causes an infection of the lungs and breathing passages. We utilized a breathing machine and administered regular treatments, as we heard nothing further (for the time being) of her RSV.

 

Over the subsequent two years, Heidi suffered with what we thought were allergies, always having a runny nose and coughing. The doctors that we took her to just brushed it off as “something that was going around.” Trying to cover all of our bases, we took her to an allergist. He told us that it was “no big deal,” that she was just allergic to grass and trees! This was difficult to swallow (no pun intended), as Heidi is a huge tomboy and loves playing outside.

We started Heidi on weekly allergy shots and saw a great improvement. Sometimes she would tell me that her chest hurt, or that it hurt to breath after recess, which I chalked up to the grass or the trees. One day Heidi attended a birthday party, where some of the adults were smoking, that’s when a discovery was made. The cigarette smoke landed Heidi in the Intensive Care Unit, where she remained for three days! This is when she was diagnosed with severe Asthma.

It was frustrating that she had to suffer with her condition, but we were relieved to finally know what it was that had been plaguing her, and being able to properly treat her for it. She was placed on daily medication that helped control her Asthma. Just one day of forgetting her medicine would cause her condition to be aggravated.

img-heidi-huston-02The staff at Cardon Children’s Medical Center recommended that Heidi attend Camp Soaring Eagle, where she could spend time with other children who have health challenges, and help her to acclimate to her newly-diagnosed condition. Not having known anyone closely that had asthma, I was somewhat naïve and unaware of how debilitating this condition can be. I was somewhat leery to send her to a camp without knowing anyone else that had participated in the past. Juan Morales, Executive Director of Camp Operations, placed me in contact with a few other moms of campers, and I was quickly put as ease. However, it wasn’t until Heidi came home and related her experiences, that I was completely convinced this was a great place for her to be. She was revitalized and had an incredibly positive outlook on life.

Heidi recently completed her third session at Camp Soaring Eagle this past April, still returning home extolling the virtues of the camp, giving it rave reviews. She loves the arts and crafts, horseback riding and archery. She also mentioned how much fun she had fishing, dancing and even acting in a play they performed! Heidi has some good friends at school too, but they don’t always understand what is going on when she puts her hand on her chest, or why she needs to go to the nurse to get her inhaler. To the other campers, these types of things are accepted and go unnoticed.

I recently asked Heidi if she would want to be a volunteer at Camp Soaring Eagle when she got older. She said that while she’d love to help people, she suspects that it might not be as fun, explaining that the volunteers don’t get to be in the plays, do arts and crafts or go horseback riding.

This year in school, Heidi has achieved straight A’s! We are very proud of her for all her hard work and dedication to learning. Her favorite things to do at school are arts and crafts (of course), computers, gym and recess. When she isn’t at school, she is quite the social butterfly. She participates on her swim team and she loves “busting some moves” in her hip-hop dance group, constantly practicing her latest dance routines. In addition, she is incredibly helpful around the house and always exudes a positive attitude.

Heidi comes from a family of four, whose members include an older sister and her parents, who all love her very much. I’m quite certain that if her dog and fish could communicate, they’d express their love for her as well!

A big “thank you” to the knowledgeable staff at Cardon Children’s Medical Center for recommending that Heidi attend camp. And a huge round of applause for the staff and fellow attendees of Camp Soaring Eagle, and all they have done for our little Heidi.

[/expand] Heidi Huston

Camp Soaring Eagle Camper

Meet Dakotah

Dakotah never missed a day of school or football practice until at twelve he was diagnosed with Type1 Diabetes. From that day on his life was never the same! He found that even though he tried to keep up with the rigorous football training he was accustomed to he grew increasingly more fatigued and excessively thirsty. Even his teenage appetite seemed to be unquenchable. This disease that had invaded his body stripped him of the insulin he needed to convert sugar and other food sources into the energy he needed to participate in sports and his daily school work.

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Dakotah found himself spending more time confined to a hospital bed than he did on the field and in school. So much so that he was forced to withdraw from Arbor View High School and its football team that left him depressed and isolated from his friends. A regimen of multiple injections that always burned became his daily drudgery. Type1 Diabetes was getting the best of him. His mother, Anika was desperate to find a resource that would help her son. She found that resource – an oasis in the midst of all her son’s pain and suffering – in Camp Soaring Eagle. Camp Soaring Eagle aided by the efforts of the employee’s of AKM provided Dakotah with the medical supervision he needed so he could attend camp.

The constant medical supervision component, central to what sets Camp Soaring Eagle apart from mainstream camps, is the only reason that kids like Dakotah can go to camp. And, although Dakotah was very reluctant to leave his home in Las Vegas and travel to Yavapai County, Arizona his mother insisted that he try to reach beyond his illness. Armed with only his teenage notion of what “camp” would be, he and his mother made the five hour car trip to the camp site. There Dakotah met his bunkmate, a teen who also suffered with the same illness and the same disappointments and frustrations. For the first time since his diagnosis Dakotah felt like he was not alone and that there were others just like him that he could share his inner most feelings with and not be ashamed or embarrassed.

That weekend Dakotah learned that by taking charge of his illness and his own therapies he could finally get ahead of this disease that invaded his young body. He witnessed other kids who also endured their painful daily injections and that gave him the resolve to continue his own medical routine without having his mother plead with him to do so. He even tried fishing for the first time in his life and he knew the moment he caught his first bluegill that he was hooked. When his mother arrived to take him back to Las Vegas an annoyed Dakotah said to his mom, “Why did you come so early? I want to stay at Camp Soaring Eagle forever. I have friends here that understand what I am going through.” In just one weekend Dakotah transformed into a kid much different than the kid who reluctantly agreed to try Camp Soaring Eagle.

img-dakotah-01Now Dakotah wants to become a counselor at Camp Soaring Eagle when he reaches eighteen so he can pay it forward to other kids who need a prescription like Camp Soaring Eagle. Because of the creativity of the employees at AKM who work together to send kids like Dakotah to camp there will be many more transformations. Through fun employee events and payroll deduction AKM employees are determined to see to it that the “no cost” camping experience provided to seriously ill kids and their families will continue to be just that. “It has truly been a blessing to support the good that is being done at Camp Soaring Eagle and we look forward to helping send many more critically, chronically, and terminally-ill children to camp in the years to come!”, says Andrew McBride, an AKM employee.

Anika, Dakotah’s mom, says that if it weren’t for the kindness of the AKM employees she couldn’t have afforded the travel expenses to get her son to Camp Soaring Eagle. And she added, “If it weren’t for all the folks who donate to Camp Soaring Eagle so that kids like Dakotah can enjoy camp, I don’t know how a lot of families would be able to cope. Dakotah’s medical bills are overwhelming. If it were dependent upon me to be able to provide this for him, Dakotah wouldn’t be able to attend because I just couldn’t do it. I want the folks who see to it that kids like Dakotah can go to camp to understand that for a parent who deals with an ill child this camp is a pretty big gift.” If you’d like to learn more about how your workforce can help fill the “prescription” of a camping experience for seriously ill kids in your community call or email Joan Kaminski at 602.842.1168. Your investment in the kids who attend Camp Soaring Eagle is not only just what the doctor ordered for them, it’s better…..because laughter is the best medicine! Just look at the smile on Dakotah’s face!

[/expand] Dakotah

Camp Soaring Eagle Camper

 

“My son has flown with Juan to CT and has grown into a confident young man. Camp has given him the courage and confidence to embrace the world and get as much from life as it has to give. Thank you, Camp Soaring Eagle!”

 

– Camper Parent

 

“Yay! This is the first time my daughter Akex has ever flown. She was very excited to fly (and a little scared). Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity.”

 

Camper Parent

Meet Brianne

When Brianne complained of a sore throat she nor her mom and dad thought that the end diagnosis would be Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Within 15 hours after her first diagnosis Brianne was in the operating room having her port (a central line in her chest) placed, bone marrow biopsy and spinal tap performed, and chemotherapy put in her spine. Brianne was looking down the road at a required two and a half years of painful chemotherapy treatments that left her legs weakened, her cheeks so swollen she couldn’t smile, and her stomach so distended she was in constant pain….conditions that no child should ever have to endure! [expand title=”Read More” swaptitle=”Read Less”]  

  During one of her several hospitalizations she got to participate in the Camp Outreach program provided by Camp Soaring Eagle through a partnership with Banner Cardon Children’s Medical Center. This made her time in the hospital go by quicker and made it less painful. Brianne looks forward to Camp Soaring Eagle because she gets a chance to forget for a moment in time that she’s ill and just gets to play, laugh, and smile like a normal kid. 95% of Campers said that they felt proud of themselves after attending camp. “I get to B-E INCREDIBLE at Camp Soaring Eagle!” For 7 years, Camp Soaring Eagle has provided life changing programs for children with serious illnesses and their families. We believe that every child deserves the chance to laugh, play and just be a kid. Your generosity will help ensure that the more than 241,000 children in Arizona who are living with special health care needs will have the opportunity to experience the healing power of laughter through one of our many programs. Please help us keep our programs available by making a contribution to Camp Soaring Eagle. Your entire donation will be directed towards camp programs because 100% of our administrative costs are underwritten by Camp Soaring Eagle’s Board of Directors. [/expand] Brianne

Camp Soaring Eagle Camper

Meet Mia

Mia is an 11 year old who loves Taylor Swift. When she was 6 weeks old, she was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disorder called Diamond Blackfan Anemia, which means her body does not produce any red blood cells.

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Since Mia’s little body has never produced any red blood cells, she literally lives off of people donating their blood. She requires life-sustaining blood transfusions every 3-4 weeks, along with special medications to keep her alive today. When Mia was 8, she was introduced to Camp Soaring Eagle by her favorite nurse Miss Christine. She invited Mia to attend ‘Hole in the Wall Gang Camp’ with a group of other children who also suffer with serious illnesses. At the time, Mia had never even been to a sleepover, let alone travel across the country without her parents. Mia’s parents never thought that their little Mia would be able to be independent.

img-mia-01Mia attends Camp Soaring Eagle’s Travel camps each summer and is able to escape her illness and “just be herself”. She “feels like a queen” and loves her counselors because they are “nice and fun and make sure that she has all her medicine.” Her favorite activity at Camp is horseback riding and she even made a special friend named Magic. Camp Soaring Eagle provides a safe environment for seriously ill children to thrive. While at Camp, children are taken care of medically and emotionally. They gain confidence and make life-long friendships and memories. Mia just received her 105th blood transfusion at Cardon Children’s Hospital last week. You can help save lives like Mia’s and other children who suffer with this illness by donating blood. You can also see if you are a bone marrow match by getting a cheek swab.

[/expand] Mia

Camp Soaring Eagle Camper

 

“Mia’s last full day at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp… she’s had a great time thanks to Camp Soaring Eagle who took her and 40+ other kids with life threatening illnesses. She lives for this camp, and a horse named Magic.”

 

– Camper Parent

 

“Kira felt like a normal kid for a weekend being surrounded by other teens her age and in her situation. Her father and I were so impressed with the counselors and staff and felt at ease for the first time since her diagnosis.”

 

– Camper Parent

Meet Chloe

At age five, Chloe was diagnosed with severe chronic bronchial asthma. There are times when her chest gets tight, hurts and burns and she can’t breathe. She takes medication multiple times a day to help keep her airways clear but many times she is hospitalized and so she misses lots of school. Chloe’s parents say, “Chloe looks forward to camp so Camp Soaring Eagle is a reward and her payment for all her struggles. We are so grateful that Camp Soaring Eagle exists and makes Chloe “fly” high above her condition. Camp Soaring Eagle gives her hope for the future.”

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For 7 years, Camp Soaring Eagle has provided life changing programs for children with serious illnesses and their families. We believe that every child deserves the chance to laugh, play and just be a kid.

Your generosity will help ensure that the more than 241,000 children in Arizona who are living with special health care needs will have the opportunity to experience the healing power of laughter through one of our many programs. Please help us keep our programs available by making a contribution to Camp Soaring Eagle. Every donation will go directly to support our existing programs and services.

Please note that your entire donation will be directed towards camp programs because 100% of our administrative costs are underwritten by Camp Soaring Eagle’s Board of Directors.

[/expand] Chloe

Camp Soaring Eagle Camper

Meet Aaron

“It’s cancer.” Hearing those words for the first time changes your life. You’re plunged through the looking glass. You enter a world you’ve never seen. And a place that no one would enter without necessity. “Normal” will be a memory.

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Since that day, Aaron has endured medical tests, surgeries, and monthly sessions of intensive, five-day chemotherapy. He misses out on most school activities and his friends don’t come around much anymore. But Aaron does have one week of being normal, an oasis right in the middle of all his suffering. At Camp Soaring Eagle he found friends in other children who understand his world because they live in the same chaotic reality. At camp Aaron can be as loud and as messy as he wants, he also has learned to bait a hook and grip a bow.

He laughs a lot at camp and he forgets while he’s there that he’s fighting a life threatening disease. Aaron says, “It’s a week of being away from home, but having the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.” If indeed angels are friends who lift us up when our own wings have forgotten how to fly, Camp Soaring Eagle is staffed with angels. What’s a week of normal worth to Aaron and to the rest of our family?

You have no idea! – Aaron’s mom

[/expand] Aaron

Camp Soaring Eagle Camper

“We have just come home from the most AMAZING few days at Briar Patch Inn in Sedona with Camp Soaring Eagle’s Oncology Family Retreat where we and 7 other families stayed in beautiful quaint little cabins right on Oak Creek and had all meals provided. We met some great people and did some fantastic activities each day. The volunteers were outstanding and worked really hard to connect with all the families. They remembered everyone’s names from the start – amazing in itself – and truly have a heart for what they do.”

– Camper Family

Meet Sean

Charlize was getting all the attention; and for a young boy who has his own adolescent needs he had to learn quickly to put his wants behind his sister’s required therapies. Although his parents tried to include Sean in family activities Charlize’s illness took precedence. Charlize even had Camp Soaring Eagle to attend so that she could enjoy camping with friends she met just like her. So when Sean learned that he too could go to Camp Soaring Eagle during the Sibling Camp session he jumped at the chance.

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Now he looks forward to hanging out with his new friends he has met at camp who deal with the same issues and emotions when back at home. Sean loves his sister but is happy to get a break during the Sibling Camp session at Camp Soaring Eagle. For 7 years, Camp Soaring Eagle has provided life changing programs for children with serious illnesses and their families.

We believe that every child deserves the chance to laugh, play and just be a kid. Your generosity will help ensure that the more than 241,000 children in Arizona who are living with special health care needs will have the opportunity to experience the healing power of laughter through one of our many programs. Please help us keep our programs available by making a contribution to Camp Soaring Eagle. Every donation will go directly to support our existing programs and services.

[/expand] Sean

Camp Soaring Eagle Sibling

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Impact

The true impact of Camp cannot be measured, but the benefits can be and we believe they are limitless.

 

The results were AMAZING!

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of campers showed an increase in self confidence

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of campers showed an increase in thier ability to face new challenges

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of campers said they felt supported by the staff and volunteers

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of campers showed an increase in their ability to make new friends