My name is Johnny Adams and I have experienced the joy that Easter Seals fosters in three different ways. When I was around four years old, I went to their summer day camp, Camp Buckaroo, with my older sister Becky. My mom saw how much we loved it and sent us for a total of seven summers. It was consistently the highlight of my summer. Friday “Snow Days” with pizza (really amazing when its 100 degrees!), riding a big wheel in the gym, making goofy crafts with counselors that I always adored – these memories remain vivid to this day. Even as a child without disabilities attending camp as a sibling, I always respected and appreciated the counselors who did so well with their campers. Their compassion was genuine and palpable.
I would forget about Easter Seals for a number of years after entering middle school. However, once I became a junior at St. Pius X High School, I began seeking a good fit for my mandatory service project. I discovered Camp Smiles – Easter Seals week-long overnight camp. I thought to myself, “What could be better than giving back to the organization that gave me countless childhood summer memories?” I was accepted as a volunteer and I had a wonderful week with my camper, Tom. I loved Camp Smiles and Tom so much that I volunteered for summer after my senior year as well. Indeed, Camp Smiles promotes powerful bonds between camper and counselor, fosters growth and confidence in the campers themselves, and creates powerful life lessons for volunteers.
Last March, I desperately sought a summer job. I knew the harsh economy would make this task difficult in itself, but my goals would be even harder to fulfill: I wanted to find a job I could be fulfilled by and enjoy. I eventually came across the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs internship list. Carefully reading each option, I came across Easter Seals and saw the contact was Erin Hauder, the camp director I had worked under as a volunteer at Camp Buckaroo! They graciously took me on and the rest is history. My boss’s boss would be the former camp coordinator, Christine Ellery, who still has pictures of me at Camp Buckaroo as a little squirt. She is a wonderful woman whose whole heart goes into her work daily. The other intern, Lindsey Holton, and I quickly became friends and a camp-leading dynamic duo. My other bosses, Erin Hauder and the now camp coordinator Betsy Keane, provided a wonderful work environment. It feels weird to call it work! Playing with kids at Camp Buckaroo and driving around a golf cart with camera taking pictures of our incredible campers and volunteers at Camp Smiles were things I deemed as privileges, not obligations. Truly, I felt blessed daily to be working with such wonderful people for such a beautiful purpose.
For roughly half of my twenty years, Easter Seals has been a part of my life. Consistently it has provided programs rich in compassion, learning, and fun. I have no doubt that it has shaped me to be a better man, especially during my service as a volunteer and my summer as an intern. More importantly, Easter Seals routinely makes miracles in the lives of disabled children and their families. Words cannot describe the joy they have brought to parents who profoundly love their children, who deeply yearn to see them thrive. What a priceless gift! I am forever thankful for my experiences with Easter Seals.
by Johnny Adams, current TCU Sophomore