Mark's Story - Camp Jump Start

I will always remember Mark! He is the dad of a camper who made me realize the power of one in changing the world. He came to visit his daughter half way through summer camp. He ran down the hill, picked me up, kissed me on the lips and swung me around all the while saying “thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Now I had been happily married for 20-something years and had not been kissed like that by anyone except my husband in quite some time so I was a bit taken aback. I was wondering who this man was and to which child he belonged. Before camp I talk to parents on the phone and I do not see them except for a few minutes when they drop their child off for the summer. Most of the time I am not looking at them anyway since I am picking through their child’s hair looking for head lice the first time we meet.
I am called back to reality when I hear this dad say “I have not seen my daughter smile like that since she was an infant. Thank you!” There are tears in his eyes. and suddenly mine too. His daughter was 14 years old, 40 pounds lighter than the last time he saw her and her signs of diabetes had disappeared. He found at camp what we all seek for our children—health and happiness.
Mark’s daughter got a second chance. Her family gave her this opportunity and she became responsible for her own life and choices. She will choose to live life well….or not. Simply, the choice is hers. At any time she will be able to use the tools she learned at camp even after we are all long gone. She has achieved success once and if she needs to find it again, she has the tools to do it..
It was two years after that moment when Mark called me again. He asked if we would meet him as he was passing through St. Louis. I closed my eyes and could picture every detail of his face and I just knew that I would spot him in a second. Instead I walked right past him without recognizing him! He had lost 150 pounds, given up smoking and was traveling to Phoenix to run his first marathon.
That is the power of Camp Jump Start! We will never be able to calculate the ripple effect but I know the power that has been unleashed thanks to Mark!

Moral to the story: Sometimes we do for our kids what we would not do for ourselves. This grassroots effort is how we change our nation’s health—one child and one family at a time. It is a life long struggle for many but working together makes the road to health a bit less bumpy.
****Stories that appear here happened to real people and are told as I remember them. No child or family is identifiable and some stories may be blended between people so that no one will recognize a specific person or event. Truly most of these moments cannot be made up in one’s wildest imagination, but some stories do sound similar even when you think it could not happen to anyone else! The purpose of my blog is to relate to those in similar circumstances. We want to bring to you the inspirational stories that we have witnessed and we wish to make life’s journey a bit easier for those coming after us.