Nicklaus Children’s Hospital VACC Camp is a week-long camp for ventilator assisted children, basically children who cannot breathe on their own. This could be an issue from birth or could be caused by something like a car accident. One example of a child who would attend is one who has a tracheostomy, which is a tube placed in their neck that goes to their lung. They breathe from the tube instead of their nose or mouth.
Children from all over the United States and world come to Miami to participate summer camp-like activities. I have been to VACC Camp a few times helping out with line dancing for their country western themed party. This year I attended the 30th annual celebration dinner which helped me appreciate what a special thing VACC Camp really is and what it means for the families involved.
At the dinner we heard from a number of people who have been touched by VACC Camp. Parents spoke about how devastated they felt about their situation and how attending the camp helped them realize both their children and they could have fun again. How it amazed them that their children could participate in activities that they never thought would be possible like swimming. They spoke about being so protective of their children that at first they couldn’t imagine letting someone else (doctors and nurses!) take care of their children at the camp.
We also heard from two previous volunteers, who assisted as teenagers. A young man shared how the many years of volunteering touched his life. A young woman gave a very moving speech about how she had always wanted to be a nurse but during high school her teachers discouraged her. They didn’t think she could do it. She said after spending the week at VACC Camp and being taught how to care for the children it gave her the confidence to pursue her dream and now twelve years later she is a nurse.
There are many people involved in making VACC Camp a success but the man of the night was Dr. Moises Simpser whose career has focused on pulmonary issues (relating to the lung). Throughout the night his name could not be said without cheers or clapping. It helps you see what you can achieve if you focus on goal and find like-minded people to help you carry it out.
To get a better idea of what I’m talking about you can visit the VACC Camp photo gallery.