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A chance to take a chance

by Steve Bodinet

azfamily.com

Posted on September 11, 2009 at 7:40 PM

A chance to take a chance. It's all most people really want. And maybe those who've been denied too many chances want it even more.

That's where a place like Camelot comes in. But before i tell you about this place where dreams come true, let me tell you about the dreamer.

In 1990 I had the great honor of tagging along on the first trip down the Colorado River designed for those with physical challenges.

It was set up by some very "out of the box" thinkers with the city of Phoenix who thought folks who traveled a road rougher than most should be able to run this river highway.

River guides worked at a reduced rate, a big hearted doctor, some nurses who were truly angels and others jumped onboard to help sixteen or so (my memory is fading) people who never ran a river.

Heck, most had been locked into wheelchairs or confined at home so long they hadn't done much of anything, other than survive, which was, of course, a full time job not for the faint of heart.

It was sixteen days of victories mixed in with some nasty defeats. But in the end, the river was run and hearts had been changed. With so many once in a lifetime memories, one does really stick out. An amazing woman, Eileen Szychowski rowed a raft.

Not much of a challenge to most, but to Eileen, whose body was under attack by disease, it was huge, and as she said, a dream come true on a river of dreams. I ended up naming the documentary I did on that trip "River of Dreams", and the Emmy it won was a testament to those incredible folks...all of them.

But for Eileen, it was just another dream come true. Even though she was fighting something that would knock most of us out of the race, she simply filled her life with slaying dragon after dragon. In 1983 she started Camelot, a place where others with special needs could make their dreams come true also.

Camelot puts adults and children with those special needs on the back of a horse. It's a gift to witness what happens when someone plays the hand they've been dealt, and walks off with the jackpot. Often these folks aren't too anxious to hop on a horse's back way up there, but with kind hands and hearts helping they do it.

Riding a horse is an incredible form of therapy that improves strength, balance, coordination and self-esteem. Wow!

Eileen rode off into retirement a couple of years ago, but you can be sure she's still slaying dragons. So what happened to Camelot? It's still there, with Mary Hadsall as director and since it's still non-profit, the special riders need special donors to keep the victories coming. So here's how things are done.

On April 28th, the fifth annual Hooves and Heroes Event will be held between 11am and 3pm at Camelot (6250 E. Jomax Road, Scottsdale, Az 85262 (480)515-1543). There will be music, riding demonstrations, a food taste sponsored by local restaurants like X-TAPA JOES, kids games and a Not So Silent Auction & Chinese Raffle. Admission is free but the food taste tickets cost $10 for one, or up to a family of five for $25. And since Camelot offers all services at NO CHARGE, yep, NO CHARGE to students, donations are gladly accepted. Last year's Hooves and Heroes event took in $35,000 but so much more is needed. So please take the family to this slice of Heaven on earth, have tons of fun, and help out so many who are doing so much.

If it's rowing a raft, or riding a horse, these are victories that make everyone a winner.

After all, helping out is the real reason why we're all here anyway. Thanks.

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