Hi, I am Cass!
Let me tell you about my story.
I was born with a very rare condition called Conradi Hunermann Syndrome. Conradi Hunermann is a type of dwarfism and affects everything in my body, I’m half blind and half deaf, I have a rare skin condition called Ichthyosis, limb length discrepancy in my whole right side (including my lung) causing me to have to wear a prosthesis, I’m a part time wheelchair user, and I have kyphoscoliosis, meaning my spine bends and twists. Over the last seventeen years, I have had a grand total of 43 surgeries.
Growing up I was constantly in and out of the hospital every six months for surgeries on my spine, and I truly thought I was alone. I knew I had a very solid support system surrounding me, but it never felt like I had anyone to talk to that understood what I was going through.
At the age of eight, my mom introduced the idea of camp to me, and to be honest, I had never spent several nights away from my mom before nor did I want to.
After a long drive, we eventually drove around the corner to see bright red roofs with trees surrounding them. It looked magical. We pulled up to the front gates and there were at least ten or fifteen people dressed in brightly colored costumes, cheering, and dancing to music.
I got out of the car, looked around and was amazed at what I was seeing. Kids, everywhere! But something was different, these kids looked like me!! We took a short tour, and everyone made me feel right at home, but the dreaded moment of my mom leaving me was drawing closer.
How in the world was I going to be able to fit in here?! That first year is such a blur when I look back on it now. I only remember laughter, joy, screaming of camp songs and cheers, lots of very good food, making new friends, dancing, and then crying at closing campfire.
I Found My Support
At the end of Camp, I introduced my mom to my new friends, asked the DJ to play camp dances that I had learned, and shouted “Hey Camp Korey! How ya feelin’?!” at least six times. We got in the car and I cried the entire way home. My mom tried to comfort me, but I do not think she really understood why I was so emotional. I think I knew right then and there that that was the place and those were the people that I would always think of as my home and family.
I will never forget watching the tears stream down my mom’s cheeks at her first opening campfire where she realized that her kid finally fit in. I was safe from all the bullying, mean things, and judgement at camp. There was only love and encouragement once you passed through those front gates.
Camp Korey Impact
Camp Korey has taught me many things such as loosen up sometimes, do not be afraid to be silly and have fun! Remember, you are not alone. For so long, I thought that no one understood me because I was too different – but Camp helped me realize that there is always someone out there who understands and can relate to what you are going through. Be kind. Be a team player. I am not defined by my condition. Camp Korey reminded me that I have a full, fun life, and to not let my body stand in the way of what I can accomplish. There is no “normal” – I am unique, and that is okay!
YOUR SUPPORT SUPPORTS KIDS LIKE ME
Camp Korey is a special place. Camp Korey gave me a place to call home, gave me friends when I did not have any, it gave me a summer to just be a kid. Camp gave me lifelong friends. Camp Korey gave me a family, and I will never be able to say thank you enough.
There is a line in a song we sing at camp called “Stars in the Sky” that I want to share with you. It goes: “The time is short and there’s so much to do, don’t waste a moment of what’s given to you. Don’t waste a moment because you’ll never see it return.” I love that line because I feel like it sums up my time at Camp so perfectly. At Camp Korey, no time is wasted, only memories are made.
Camp Korey congratulates Cassidy on her exciting role of Eleanor in Netflix’s animated feature, “Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy” produced by DreamWorks. “Just because you have a disability does not mean you are limited to that, chase your dreams, I’m living proof of that.” – Cassidy Huff