Dear Friends and Family,
A place that has become VERY SPECIAL and IMPORTANT to us needs our help!
Most of you know that over the last couple years, Jack has had the opportunity to attend a camp for kids who have had organ transplants. That camp also holds a session for siblings of medically complex kids, which Gracie has attended, and also family camp sessions. All of this happens at North Star Reach, which is located just west of Ann Arbor Michigan. And at that wonderful place, all four of us have experienced incredible fun, peace, and belonging.
We are forever grateful for the love, prayers, and support that surrounded us during the past 9 years and we couldn’t have come this far without you! But despite all of that, it was and is hard to go through this lifelong experience without being able to connect with other families with similar experiences. As Jack gets older, he is more and more sensitive about the fact that he is exactly what tweens and teens do not want to be: different. Despite our best efforts, Gracie has grown up overshadowed in some ways by Jack’s medical history. And for the two of us, it’s just lonely to not be able to share our unique feelings about this with other parents who have walked in our shoes.
At camp, all of that goes out the window. Jack gets to run around with other kids with scars—both the giant ones on their bellies, but also the deeper emotional ones that come with having to manage a chronic health condition at a very young age. Gracie gets to hang out with other kids who have walked a similar path and experience the same kind of attention that gets lavished on Jack. The two of us get to connect with a group of parents who have stared death in the eye and been given a second chance with our child. And in the process, we get to make friends and have a tremendous amount of fun together.
Camp has a word for this amazing combination of feelings: Mooseness. And that Mooseness helps carry us through the stressful times that we all still experience and gives us HOPE for the future from Jack and our family.
Because of COVID-19, North Star Reach is not putting on any of its sessions in person this year—though they will be doing virtual programming. We participated in a virtual family camp two weekends ago, and they plan on hosting other virtual camp sessions for groups throughout the summer and into the fall, if needed. These sessions will replicate many of the very special camp traditions, including campfire songs via videoconference, small group activities, and even the famous hands-free spaghetti dinner. North Star Reach will also be developing additional content to support campers and their families during this time that families with medically complicated children feel even more vulnerable than usual. Hospital have had to lay off family support staff and are calling on North Star Reach to fill in the gaps.
The main camp fundraisers for the year are not happening because of COVID-19, and other funding has unexpectedly diminished. As a result, North Star Reach needs help to survive through this year. Camp has asked us, other families, and its many volunteers to assist in a fundraising drive to help the camp survive and also continue to provide the support that we depend on.
We understand that these are challenging and stressful times. Rest assured that we would not make a request like this unless it was for an organization that we truly believe in. An organization that helps bring Mooseness to our family and many many others like us. Please consider donating whatever might be possible.
All our love and gratitude,
Tim, Bridget Jack & Gracie