One of the highlights of our recent trip to Pennsylvania was the opportunity to attend the Swing Fore Camden fundraiser that is put on in Camden’s honor. I blogged about the 2nd annual Swing Fore Camden last year.
Our niece and nephew, Kaila and Kai, were sitting around a few years ago thinking about how they could help Camden in this journey to reach his fullest potential. Kaila works at a golf course, and their family is very sporty, so a golf outing was a superb idea for a fundraiser.
Most kids with autism can make significant strides with the right assistance. Our family strives to get Camden as healthy as possible on the inside so that he feels good and is able to learn academically. Much of Camden’s academic progress comes from ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis, therapy. Camden responds extremely well to ABA. While there was a bill passed requiring company health plans to cover ABA therapy, there are loopholes. My husband’s employer (like many others) has self-funded health insurance which does not require them to pay for ABA therapy. What happened to our family after Camden’s initial diagnosis at the age of 2 years 2 months is extremely common. The Developmental Pediatrician wrote a prescription and letter encouraging us to get Camden into an intensive (30-40 hours) ABA program along with PT/OT/ST. There are gobs of articles and studies emphasizing the importance of early intervention, so we were ready to get started. We were stunned/sucker-punched/discouraged/overwhelmed to learn the costs of therapy and how little was covered under our insurance plan. Just to give you an idea…$60 an hour is a very average price for ABA therapy. When the Developmental Pediatrician recommended a minimum of 30 hours per week, you can see how that could add up quickly. It was a very helpless feeling early on when we were desperate to get Camden the care he needed and deserved.
We are extremely grateful to Kaila and Kai for coming up with this idea. For caring so much about their cousin. For believing in him. This golf fundraiser is just a snippet of the amazing love that Kaila and Kai display towards Camden.
Camden loves golf carts. When we go to church, we park in the farthest parking lot so that we can ride the golf cart up to the building. I’ve shared before about Camden’s first unscripted prayer. At dinner we asked him to pray, thinking he would sing our meal-time prayer song. Instead, he prayed, “Dear God, thank You for golf carts. In Jesus’ name, amen.” =) We were excited that the timing worked out for us to attend the golf fundraiser during our summer trip to PA. As the time drew closer, I started to get a little nervous. The folks attending Swing Fore Camden pay good money to attend and play. There are some pretty stellar golfers. I wasn’t sure how the quiet of golf would mix with Camden’s verbal stimming. To put it mildly, we have not mastered the skill of whispering.
It was incredibly humbling to see the people that came out to be a part of Swing Fore Camden. The vast majority of players and volunteers didn’t even know Camden until we attended this year. Most of them were supporting Kaila and Kai and their efforts to support Camden.
We headed to the clubhouse as soon as we arrived to hear the opening remarks and watch the carts take off. It was so fun to see the sign for the event and start to grasp what a wonderful thing was taking place. The event was held at The Links at Gettysburg. The course was absolutely beautiful!
Seeing all the golf carts lined up was really neat. Camden enjoyed watching them disperse. After our dinner prayer the next night, he shared that his blessing was the “red carts.” =)One of Camden’s favorite songs right now is Steven Curtis Chapman’s, The Great Adventure. He cracked me up when he took the microphone after the opening remarks and sang the song. What a hoot!
The event officially started at 2PM. Golfers arrived at 1PM for unlimited time at the driving range beforehand. Brian and I were each given our own carts to drive around with the boys. Carson had an absolute blast!
A sweet friend, Kelsey, that connected with me through Pinterest Told Me To came to the fundraiser to meet our family and spend some time with us. She hung out with Camden and I. Kelsey works with kids on the autism spectrum.
The golf portion of the event lasted 4-5 hours. The time actually flew as we drove around in the golf cart, chatted with people, ate, and took a couple of breaks here and there. It was a beautiful day. Actually pretty mild for July. Swing Fore Camden was initially scheduled the week prior, but it got rained out. I like what Kaila shared about the change of plans:
Yesterday was amazing!! Thank you to everyone who made it happen. We had our largest year in numbers and we hit a new record for the funds raised!
On a personal note, I prayed for 20 foursomes this past year as we planned the 3rd annual event. When Saturday hit with the rain and we had 15 groups registered, I was a little bummed about the numbers and the weather. This Sunday we had 20 foursomes check in at Swing Fore Camden on one of the most beautiful days for golf this entire summer. God’s plans never fail and this is just one more way he showed me to remain faithful…even in the storm…literally.
I have been so blessed through this event in so many ways. The love and support given to myself and my family yesterday in addition to all the support throughout the year while planning was indescribable. You all make my heart happy…and Camden’s too. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for Swing Fore Camden 2016.
After completing registration and opening festivities, Kaila drove the beverage cart during the event.
Kai participated in the tournament with a group of his friends.
Anytime Camden saw Kai, he’d chase him down and request that Kai toss him in the air. Here they are hugging after a few tosses. Melt me like butter!While Kaila and Kai spearheaded this event, I know their parents (my brother- and sister-in-law) were highly involved as well. They are amazing! Here’s my brother-in-law with his team.
My sister-in-law ran the grill at the 6th hole. She said that people had gotten hungry in previous years, so she got permission to grill hotdogs. Smart idea! Here she is after just packing up her station.
Once the participants finished their 18 holes we headed back to the clubhouse for dinner, the putting contest, and to announce winners. The boys and I stopped for a photo opp on a bridge. So hard to get them both to simultaneously cooperate for pics. Sheesh.
It was nice to have the entire group together for dinner at the clubhouse. There was a gorgeous view to watch the sunset. People laughed and talked and ate. Kaila and Kai announced the contest winners and said some closing remarks. The generosity from the contest winners was astounding. Our little family spoke last. We wanted people to be able to hear Camden’s sweet voice, and the easiest way to do that is to either have him share a Bible verse or a song. He recited John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son. That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” He also sang the chorus to “The Great Adventure.”
Saddle up your horses. We’ve got a trail to blaze. Whoa. Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace. Let’s follow our Leader into the glorious unknown. This is life like no other. Whoa. This is the great adventure.
After Camden’s song, Carson asked if he could pray. So incredibly sweet. Always does my heart good to hear him talk to God. Natural and genuine and tender. And sometimes really funny, unintentionally. It was the perfect ending to a really great day.
From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU! Thank you Kaila and Kai for the countless hours you put in to making Swing Fore Camden such an amazing event. You are both such hard workers with beautiful hearts and solid character. Your care and devotion to Camden and Carson is a beautiful thing! A huge THANK YOU to all the volunteers: from the beverage cart to the hot dog stand to the folks who ran the various contests. The people who set up and tore down. We appreciate each of you. A big ole THANKS to the staff at The Links. Such a great team and beautiful course! And THANK YOU to all of you who golfed in Swing Fore Camden. There is no greater way to love and encourage me, than by loving and caring for my guys. For each of you to spend your money and time to support our family has touched us deeply. Thank you for helping us to help Camden strive to reach his fullest potential. Thank you God for allowing our paths to cross with so many wonderful people and for entrusting us with these two precious treasures.
Hope to see you at next year’s 4th annual Swing Fore Camden!!