PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A Valley family is celebrating a pretty big accomplishment in 2018. They helped create the first summer camp in Arizona for children with spina bifida.

Camp Patrick is named for the youngest son of Tommy and Katie Reeve.

"Patrick was born with spina bifida and when we started looking for things for him to do, we really wanted him to go to a cool summer camp like they have for other special needs kids," said Tommy. "And there just wasn't anything out there for kids with spina bifida here in Arizona."

In fact, the closest camp was in Pennsylvania. So they decided to start one.

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The kids played basketball and cornhole together, made Christmas ornaments and talked about camp memories.

"We both are very passionate about camp. Tommy grew up and volunteered at camps, cancer camps and other special needs camps. I helped run a day camp here in Arizona, and so I think we both saw what camp does for kids," said Katie.

Five-year-old Patrick joined other kids from across Arizona this past summer at the first ever Camp Patrick near Payson.

"We did dodgeball and baseball. One night we all looked at the stars and the moon," said 11-year-old camper Brendan Johnson. "It was really fun."

The campers also participated archery and a talent show.

"Camp was just a fun place for kids with disabilities," said 9-year-old camper Luis Reyes Serna. "You can just have fun, have a good time and forget about your differences."

Having this kind of community can be especially life-changing for kids from smaller towns. Michelle Collett is the mother of 6-year-old-Bella, who has spina bifida as well and lives in Prescott.

"I thought it was really good for her to get around people with similar disabilities, to let her know she's not alone," said Collett.

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Kids from across Arizona this past summer went to the first ever Camp Patrick near Payson.

Earlier in December, the Reeve family hosted a holiday party for the campers and their families. It was the first time most of these kids had seen each other since the summer.

"I'm looking forward to seeing friends I haven't seen in a while," said Brendan.

The kids played basketball and cornhole together, made Christmas ornaments and talked about camp memories.

"It just makes me almost cry when I see the kids coming in. Because had this never come about, these kids would have never met," said Tommy. "It really is making a difference in their lives, just because they know there are other kids out there just like them."

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Having this kind of community can be especially life-changing for kids from smaller towns.

"Our best advice was from one of our orthopedic surgeons, and that was to not treat him any differently than your other kids. So we've tried not to," added Katie. "We just let Patrick lead the way."

Camp Patrick was able to rent Camp Whispering Hope Ranch, a completely wheelchair accessible facility, and not charge families for the summer camp experience. It would otherwise cost about $750 per camper. They're hoping to do this again in 2019, thanks to donations and fundraising.

If you'd like to help out and donate to Camp Patrick, got to their website at Camppatrick.com.

 


Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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