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Flying Horse Farms hits milestone summer of camp

This summer, Flying Horse Farms hit a milestone of 100 camp sessions. All free.

MT GILEAD, Ohio -- As summer winds down, Flying Horse Farms has created a milestone season of memories.

With a ropes course, fishing, archery, it’s summer camp utopia. But its perfection is only for kids whose lives have rarely gone according to plan.

“This community specifically are supportive,” said Andre Simmons, Jr. “They know you have problems, and they’re not necessarily going to make you open up about them, but they’ll be more than happy to listen, which is what I love most about camp.”

Andre’s “problem” is sickle-cell anemia, the possibility of a pain crisis always on his mind. He’s now a freshman at Wright State University, serving as a teen ranger this summer.

At Flying Horse Farms, the needs of its campers, who all have serious illnesses of some kind, are anticipated. The medications and adaptions are all taken care of. It’s not a place for patients, but for fearless kids.

“{Camp} probably helped me come out of my shell a little bit,” he said.

“I think a lot of times people are defined by what they are diagnosed with and it’s hard to overcome. And kids just come here and be kids,” said Emma Blankenship, another ranger.

And in that way, camp is a cure.

“This place gives an opportunity to see kids who are going through the same thing and gives them the sense they are not alone. And together they can really have a great time and enjoy what life has to offer,” said counselor Merrick Mamarella.

This summer, Flying Horse Farms hit a milestone of 100 camp sessions. All free.

“There should not be a cost to experience transformation, and the magic that is camp, that fuels these campers and their families year-round,” said President and CEO Nichole Dunn. “It’s awesome, it’s phenomenal, we’ve had over 5,000 campers come to Flying Horse Farms and we want to be here for 50,000.”

300 of those campers each year are from Northeast Ohio, about a third of their overall campers. It’s Clevelander Paul Newman’s vision that founded the first camp of this kind in the SeriousFun Children’s Network 30 years ago.

Flying Horse Farms runs off generous donors and volunteer help from qualified medical professionals and others, like our own Sara Shookman. And they can always use more help. You can learn more on its website by clicking here.

All the camps in the SeriousFun Children’s Network across the country will benefit from a September benefit in Columbus. The A&F Challenge is an annual party, 5K and concert at Abercrombie and Fitch HQ in New Albany. Learn more about that here.

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