Born with cerebral palsy in 1980, Adam Horney was about to enter pre-kindergarten but hadn’t started walking.
“We knew that he was going to walk, so we were desperate to get him up and going,” Karel Horney says, reluctant for her son to start school in a wheelchair. The 5-year-old boy began an intensive therapy session: five hours a day for five days. After that short amount of time, Adam was able to take several steps in a walker, and forever avoided the wheelchair.
“It was a testimony to this therapy and how powerful it is,” Horney says. She and Adam’s physical therapist began discussing ideas for bringing multiple therapists and families of special needs children together for one week and working together in an intensive setting. After watching a little girl with cerebral palsy walk, Adam stood up and walked across the room. He’s walked independently ever since.
“It was really powerful for us, and for him,” Horney says. “All the other families had some sort of breakthrough for their child.” From there, Adam’s Camp was born.
Twenty-five years later, Adam’s Camp still provides intensive and personalized therapeutic programs for children and young adults with various special needs. The organization also offers networking and discussion opportunities for parents, along with recreational programs for siblings of children with disabilities. “We learned that when a child has special needs, the family has special needs,” Horney says.
Amberley Kropp’s 6-year-old son Schuyler has Down Syndrome. After two years of intensive therapy in Denver, he started mountain therapy sessions. When he was 4, Schuyler struggled to say his name. The different therapists collaborated to teach him the “sk” sound using puppets and drums in addition to speech therapy. “By the time we left, he was able to say his name,” Kropp says. “You leave with a lot of strategies and ideas. As a parent, it gives me so much hope.”
The Adam’s Camp motto is ‘realizing potential, developing strength.’ But that mission isn’t just for those with disabilities, Bryce Alexander learned. He began volunteering for the nonprofit when he was in high school, and it changed his life. “At the time I was struggling in school, and after my one-week at Adam’s Camp I never got below a 3.5 again,” Alexander says.
Today, Alexander is an Adam’s Camp counselor and has received scholarships from the University of Colorado for essays he has written on the program. “Not only did I learn about disabilities, I learned about my own potential and the things that I was passionate about,” Alexander says. “It was a life-altering experience in many different ways.”
A Quarter-Century Celebration
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Adam’s Camp. Executive Director Karel Horney attributes the nonprofit’s success to the “wonderful volunteers and board of directors, great staff and people who really have the mission of the organization at heart.”
During its first year, Adam’s Camp served 20 clients, which includes special needs children and their families. Last year, the organization served 871 clients. “Watching some of these families walk in with such a feeling of despair and hopelessness, and then watching them walk out at the end of the week with a new sense of hope and confidence is beyond rewarding,” Horney says. “Seeing it year after year is just an incredible gift.”
While there is a fee for the services Adam’s Camp provides, the organization supplements 50 percent for every camper and provides $50,000 in annual scholarships. “We never want to turn a family away because of finances,” Horney says. But the organization’s founder admits that raising the other half of their operating budget is the most challenging part of her job. Every year Adam’s Camp hosts several events that focus on raising program awareness while providing opportunities for donations.
In September, the organization will host its 6th Annual Adam’s Camp Golf Classic hosted by PGA and Champions Tour Pro Mark Wiebe. The time and location has yet to be determined.
Each spring, Adam’s Camp holds a family-oriented event, so mark your calendar for April of 2012. For additional information and event details be sure to check the website.