I have shared in many post that I work for Camp Barnabas which is a camp for kids and adults with special needs. I love my job and I love this camp it is one of the most unique places on earth and also my home.
Camp has been and will always be a home for me and for so many others. I was having a conversation with a dear friend tonight and she has been talking with an adult camper who is going through a difficult time and as Sarah has been talking to her, the camper measures every year by camp years and not the typical calendar year. This is the true story for so many of our campers, volunteers, and staff members. Campers leave camp and begin talking the next year of camp in the car rides home from their current camp experience.
Barnabas is such an amazing place where everyone belongs and in light of that one of the things that Barnabas always desires that any camper who desires to come to camp can do just that, attend camp.
However, camp cost money, and many of our families are not in financial places to be able to afford the cost that comes with any camp. Barnabas has a scholarship fund to help truly ensure that each camper can come to camp and be celebrated regardless of their families financial situation.
However, to have money in a scholarship fund you have to some how raise money and this year Barnabas ran down a new road to fund raise.
We had the Worlds Biggest Party Half Marathon this year to bring in those funds. It was held in Springfield MO and we had people come from all over.
People came from Kansas city, Fayetteville and the entire surrounding area of Springfield. It was such an adventure.
We began planning in January and the race was in April…do any of you know how long you are “supposed” to spend planning a marathon?… a year… that’s right a year… and we did it in 4 months. It was crazy and amazing!
We have such an amazing team but mostly two lovely ladies Kylie and Mindy are the ones who really made it all happen. They worked so hard on something that they had no idea what they were really doing but they rocked it.
It was amazing how it all came together in such a short amount of time and how much it exceeded out expectations. We were expecting around 300 hundred runners to sign up for the race and by the morning of the race we had 462 runners! It was incredible!
This marathon was exactly whats it’s title says. It was incredible. Every mile marker there was a party happening, bands, people dressed up as star wars characters fighting with light sabers and all.
There were so many amazing volunteers who made up the party teams. We are so thankful for them and it was such an encouragement to the runners as they reached each mile to have people cheering them on and being silly.
When racers crossed the finish line they walked into a huge party in Jordan Valley park with a DJ, games, a photo booth and even complete with jugglers.
It was beautiful to see all of the runners and their reasons for running the race for some it was simply another marathon to run that supported a good cause, and for others they were running for very specific reasons that were special to their own hearts.
This year’s race was such an incredible success not just for Barnabas but for the runners and most of all our campers that will be coming through our gates this summer and summers to come.
It was a beautiful event and you can expect that I will be talking about it next April and promoting the next race, so if you are a runner look forward to running. If you love to party you can come and be a part of our party teams.
Check out more race pics and Barnabas Foundation information on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/campbarnabas
Check out the Marathon website at www.bigpartymarathon.com
Check out Camp Barnabas information at: www.campbarnabas.org
Photos taken by: Kara Wells, Sara Romans and Sherry Kettner and are the property of Barnabas Foundation.
The title of this post was a text I recently sent to one of my friends who is a senior in college and to remind you that I am neither in high school or college anymore so this on every account was a strange text to send.
In the last post I wrote I shared that I would be writing about another event that we recently attended… Well… Here it is.
I am going to tell you a story about the best prom in the world today!
In March we attended the Kansas City Down Syndrome Guild’s annual prom. It is put on every year. They spend a year planning it and putting it together and the catch to this prom is that it is completely free. There is a meal and a night of dancing and all just because they can. It is such a beautiful event for all of these reason but the real beauty in it are the people that they are throwing this party for.
It is a prom that is specifically for those with special needs.
It is a huge prom and is held at the Overland Park convention center in Kansas City.
It is a prom that is full of nearly 600 individuals with special needs and they all have a night where they feel so amazing and special. The girls dress up in amazing gowns and the guys rent tuxes. Some come with dates, some with care givers some with friends and then some come alone but make friends along the way at night.
It is such a night that is full of beauty.
The people who attend have a night where there is no pressure to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, no rivalries happening about who looks the best, there is not prom king or queen, (because they are all kings and queens), there is no expectations of anyone to be anything other than who they are. It is such a refreshing and fun experience.
The students and staff of my program attended but I however attended with Jeremy who will is my long standing prom date.
I was his date last year, this year and really from this point on wherever I am in life I will come back and be Jeremy’s prom date.
Jeremy loves going and running errands for prom with me before hand, he loves putting on my corsage and then loves loves dancing the night away.
The prom begins at 6:30 and ends the late hour of 9:30 pm, (we want to make sure we don’t have anyone turning into pumpkins and all), but is is three hours that is filled with such excitement and joy.
As you walk around the dance floor random people with all kinds of special needs run up and want to dance with you, and you feel like such a special picked person to be singled out by this person and to receive all the joy in the world from them. It is beautiful to see the girls all around the floor in their sparkling dresses feeling as beautiful as they are, and the guys feeling like such gentlemen.
There are also an abundance of volunteers everywhere and these volunteers are literally there to dance with these people and make it the most unforgettable night of their lives and they do such an amazing job at it, but most of them are high schoolers which is an entirely different beauty to behold. These students whose proms will be filled with all kinds of drama and selfishness,(at least my proms were that and until this it was all I had to go off of), coming to a prom that is all but selfish.
In some of the circles that I am a part of everyone works hard to find a way to make it to this prom and to enjoy the sites of all of these people getting such a special night set aside for them.
This prom has forever changed my definition of what a prom should be and more so, beauty, and not simply because of the amazing magnitude of the prom, the amazing decorations, the incredible food, but because of the lengths that those who organize it and put it on go to make this the most amazing night ever for each individual with special needs that attends.
I will never be the same because of the sheer beauty of this prom and the beauty of those who attend, a single night of dancing the night away helped me understand true beauty in a way I never imagined. It made me understand that beauty is truly more than a standard but a way of living, a life lived in joy and one where one dances because they can.