Linwood Twenty miles east of Lawrence, along Kansas Highway 32, sits a small summer camp where dreams are being realized.
This week, 67 children who live life every day with muscular dystrophy are getting a taste of life without the debilitating disease.
“There is no typical day in this place,” said Angela Hills, MDA Camp coordinator. “This is their week to be kids, not kids with muscular dystrophy.”
For six days, the children are away from family, well-removed from stereotypes and able to act on their own. The children, who come from Kansas and Missouri, can abandon the wheel chairs and leg braces — and allow the neuromuscular disease that typically hinders them to empower them.
“It’s pretty nice to get away from it all,” said Lucas Mehl, who is a ninth-year camper. “It’s good that you get to hang out with kids that have the same disease you do.”
Campers have full access to a specially designed zip line, horseback riding, activities such as date night and nightly themed parties, but many believe the swimming pool is the most therapeutic.
“The pool is absolutely amazing,” said Monica Senter, who is a fifth-year camp counselor. “Some of our campers with more restricted mobility, the water makes them weightless and there is a freedom of movement that they don’t have on dry land.”
The Muscular Dystrophy Association pays $800 for each child to attend the summer camp, money that is generated strictly through local donations. Children range in age from 6 to 17 and say the experience is something they never forget.
Sarah Smith, 17, will graduate from the camp this summer.
“It’s fun, it’s easygoing, it’s outgoing,” she said.