Saucier MDA patient loves MDA summer camp

By Karen Abernathy - bio | email

The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon is coming your way soon.  One of the most important ways your donations help Jerry's kids is MDA summer camp. The camp means so much to young patients, many of whom live right here in South Mississippi.

Ten-year-old Emily Hickman from Saucier loves MDA summer camp.  She especially likes horseback riding and swimming.  Many of the kids at camp are riding horses for the first time, and it takes some getting used to. But volunteers say most of the young campers end their ride happy.

Volunteer Emily Jennings says they help the kids get to know the horses before they ride, and that adds to their confidence.

"Each horse has its own story just like each child has their own story and we share that with the kids and it makes it more relaxing for them."

Jennings says the benefits are tremendous.

"I enjoy the kids' reactions. It's very therapeutic for them."

And while activities are a huge part of Emily's enjoyment of camp,  making friends is probably at the top of her list. She likes the fact that at camp, her disabilities don't stand out, and she's like everyone else.

"It's kind of fun coming here because everybody has similar things, and you know what everybody is going through."

Emily says that's not always the case when she's at school, or other public places.

"Some kids stare, because they haven't seen anybody like that before and so they just stare and it's annoying."

Emily has a form of muscular dystrophy called Emory Dreyfus disease. It's a relatively slow progressing condition that leads to muscle weakness, and wasting of the shoulders, arms and calf muscles. It can also lead to cardiac abnormalities. Emily relies on a wheelchair to help her, especially when she's tired.

"It just makes your muscles weak. I can walk,  but I can't walk for very long."

But at camp, there are few limitations. That's why it means so much to MDA patients like Emily.

"It feels like I can do stuff here."

And that brings a smile to her face, and makes life more fulfilling for Emily and the other campers.

You can help Emily and others just like her this Labor Day. Tune in and call in with your pledge during WLOX's broadcast of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.

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