Every week or two I will repost this to remind us exactly why we need to be supportive of the kids who need us.The best way I can describe it is to steal a thought from Clea Newman, Paul Newman’s daughter, as she describes her dad’s feelings (And mine too!): “Anyone who knew my Pop knows there were three places he truly felt happy and at home: with his family, at camp, and in a great car. What’s really amazing is none of those things ever stood alone. He always felt like camp was, itself, a family and so was the community he belonged to and helped build of race car drivers and passionate car enthusiasts alike. And in being so committed to all of these “families,” he ignited a spark in me too.”
There is an optimism and warmth that the kids exude that belies their illnesses and it is contagious! I think of the things that frustrate me, that get me down, then I compare those minor irritations against the ongoing struggles just to get through the day for these kids and I wonder how they do it. And, not just do it, but do it with a palpable joy despite the needles, pills and pain that are a part of every day, week and year. No reprieve, no time off. They set the bar awfully high. The least we can do is support them. And when I say, support them, I mean it. Not one penny of your donations will go to me or my trip expenses…it goes straight to the ranch!
Thank you to all of you who have donated already – you know who you are – you are the Superheros the kids at the camp need. And if you want to donate just use the button on the home page…the one that says DONATE HERE. And when you donate, it might be nice to know where the donation goes so here is an overview of the ranch and what it does.
The Roundup River Ranch
Roundup River Ranch is part of the SeriousFun Children’s Network, a global community of medical specialty camps founded by Paul Newman. He believed that kids with serious illnesses needed a place to “kick back and raise a little hell.” And we couldn’t agree more. Started in Connecticut near Newman’s home, the first camp was called “The Hole in the Wall Gang” camp after Newman’s movie experience, just like the place that Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid hid out in Wyoming. With the success of the first camp, Newman envisioned a time when there would be camps like this all across the USA. Now there are. This community of camps and programs are committed to serving children with serious illnesses and their families. Each is independently financed and governed but all camps share similar philosophies and visions. Roundup River Ranch is located north of Dotsero, Colorado, on 125 picturesque acres in the Rocky Mountain wilderness adjacent to the Colorado River. There, children and families from an 11-state region experience the magic of camp through Summer Programs for specific illness groups or Family Programs. At Roundup River Ranch, campers build lasting friendships, memories, and skills that provide a new outlook on life.
At camp, the children can just feel incredible, no matter what illness they’re battling. The focus is on fun, not their conditions. Most importantly, they are given an experience that energizes their spirits, allowing them to simply enjoy the fun, games, and joys of childhood – all free to campers and their families. Yet, in the background the reality is that Roundup River Ranch is a medically-supported camp for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Full emergency level care is available on site, though it is carefully hidden. The suite is staged as a caboose, all the medical equipment is covered with animal shapes and there is no “hospital” smell one normally associates with such a facility. As we said, the focus is on making this fun!
And this, specifically, is what makes Roundup River Ranch so extraordinary. They make campers with serious illnesses feel like ordinary kids. Giggling, laughing, conspiring, arrow-shooting, horseback-riding, craft-creating kids. They help campers and their families enjoy the gift of extraordinarily joyful moments, lasting friendships, newfound courage, and memories that remain long after the last s’more is devoured.
One of my favorite stories is about Paul Newman at camp. His company, Newman’s Own furnishes a lot of foodstuffs as “in kind” donations and on every container of his products is a sketch of Newman tailored to the product on which it appears. On one visit, he was sitting with a young camper who kept looking at him, then at the lemonade carton, then back at him. The kid finally formed a thought in his mind after seeing the likeness on the carton and asked Newman, “Are you missing?”
And now, you are a part of this extraordinary enterprise. Thank you for your support through my Cross Country Elan. Spread the word now that you know the magic that happens at Roundup River Ranch for every kid and family!
For even more information check out their website: http://www.roundupriverranch.org/