Meet Therese and her son, Lucas.

A typical day for Therese includes working, grocery shopping, and carpooling; but unlike many parents she also must balance the physical, emotional and mental care that come with parenting a child who has a life-altering condition. At 6 months of age, Therese’s son Lucas was rushed to the hospital for a bacterial infection and the medicine destroyed his kidneys. Before his second birthday, Lucas experienced the first of 50 surgeries and months of dialysis. This period in time left Therese and Lucas feeling isolated and marginalized as they missed precious milestones and many of the simple joys of childhood.

A Whole New World of Support and Understanding

It was seven years later when a kidney transplant doctor at Seattle Children’s suggested a way Therese could help Lucas enhance his whole being by meeting other transplant survivors. He told Therese about Camp Korey. At Camp, he told her, Lucas could find peers whose shared medical experiences could grow into lifelong friendships. Lucas found this community at Camp Korey.

“For Lucas, attending Camp Korey was like arriving in a whole new world of support and understanding,” says Therese. “He didn’t need to explain why he had a belly full of surgical scars, why he couldn’t run or kick a ball, or why he needed the bathroom so often. At Camp, he didn’t feel different or less able than anyone else.”

Growing Up with Camp Korey

Therese has watched Lucas thrive during his years growing up at Camp Korey. “The love, acceptance, and support he experienced at Camp Korey has had a very positive impact on his self-esteem, his sense of who he is, and where his place is in the world. There were times he felt sad and worried that he was part of a group of children with special needs, and it bothered him that he could be perceived as being needy and unable to take care of himself. His interaction and experience with other campers, however, has helped him realize that everyone needs a helping hand every now and then and there is no shame in that. Everyone–able-bodied or otherwise, those with learning disabilities or not–needs somebody to lean on. What it comes down to is this: we are all part of a community, and together we are stronger.”

Discovering Confidence and Passing On Love and Support

As we celebrate 15 years of Camp Korey, we also celebrate Lucas’ continuing 15-year journey. Camp has impacted his story from the time he first arrived at camp—from his first giggles during Silly-O, to his fun-filled Make-A-Wish birthday party at Camp Korey, to joining us at a recent awards ceremony as a teen ambassador.

Therese reflects: “Over the years, Lucas has transitioned from being a camper who receives love and support to a camper who very generously GIVES love and support. He is a strong, confident, and socially- aware young adult who exudes hope and genuine enthusiasm for life.”

Learn more about Lucas’s story and how Camp Korey influenced his life over the years with his “Make A Wish” video.