Children with serious medical conditions and developmental disabilities deserve the chance to “just be a kid” every now and then. These two organizations offer kids that chance while also giving families respite, community and fun!
Thanks to Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights for partnering with me on this post.
You might think Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights is just a really cool drive through light display that pops up during the holidays and then goes into hibernation for the other 10 months out of the year. But you would be incorrect. I’ve had the chance to spend a little extra time outside of the drive thru with the family and employees behind the light show and what really shines is their desire to make a difference in the community around them.
Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights isn’t just a holiday display, it’s a vehicle for good. Through donations, special nights at the show and involvement throughout the entire calendar year, Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights has been able to invest in several non-profit organizations that are making a difference in our community and they’ve asked me to share with you about two of those organizations that offer so much to Central Ohio families!
I was privileged to spend a couple of hours with each of these organizations, seeing first hand what they do and learning how others can benefit, volunteer and give! And now, I am honored to share with you what I have seen and learned!
Two Local Non-Profits Who Offer Respite and Fun for Families of Children with Serious Medical Conditions and Developmental Disabilities:
In May, I drove out to Ashley, Ohio to tour and learn about Recreation Unlimited. I came away completely impressed by the organization and its mission. Open since 1989, Recreation Unlimited is a 195 acre campus that provides camps for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities.
Recreation Unlimited offers camping, canoeing, climbing and sports opportunities for kids and adults who might not otherwise be able to do these kinds of activities. Meanwhile, while the camper is at camp, parents and caregivers can have a time of respite. The organization provides summer and winter residential camps (one week long), summer day camps and year round respite weekend camps.
When visiting the campus, it was hard to ignore the quality and high standards that were maintained. Major renovations have taken place over the past 10 years to continue to offer campers the highest quality experience thanks to generous donors. Meanwhile the organization has remained debt free.
How to Participate:
Camps are available for kids and adults who are 5 years old and over with disabilities and/or health concerns. If you have a child (including adults) who could benefit from one of the camps at Recreation Unlimited, click this link to read a description of the camps offered and to complete a camper application online.
How to Volunteer:
This amazing camp experience is made possible through generous donors and volunteers. Volunteers are needed to help with camps, maintain landscaping and maintenance, and to participate in special events. Local businesses can also get involved as a group to work on specific projects or events that benefit Recreation Unlimited. You can call or email Recreation Unlimited to find out how to volunteer!
How to Give:
Campers are not turned away because of inability to pay! Your donations to Recreation Unlimited directly help campers and their caregivers have this unique experience. You can contribute to a scholarship fund or create your own camper scholarship fund to provide scholarships for campers. You can also click here to donate to the Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights Recreation Unlimited Camper Scholarship Fund!
2. A Kid Again
A Kid Again offers the opportunity for kids with serious medical conditions (and their families) the opportunity to be just that – “a kid again”. For kids and their families who have to spend so much of their time wrapped up in doctors appointments, medical tests, specialists, appointments and traveling to and from said visits, A Kid Again is a chance to get away from all of that for a few hours and spend time together as a family doing something really fun and special.
Once a month, the Central Ohio Chapter of A Kid Again plans an “adventure” for families. These adventures give families something to look forward to, a bright spot of hope and excitement in each month. Adventures include The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Kings Island, Zoombezi Bay, and a night just for them at Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights!
I was privileged to join A Kid Again for their adventure to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in June. The Columbus Zoo shut down early and was staffed by volunteer employees who gave their time to work the event. Families got admission and the opportunity to participate in everything the zoo has to offer at no cost to them. They could watch shows, ride the train and carousel, feed the giraffes, ride camels and anything else the zoo has to offer!
Kids got to be kids and families got to join right in!
How to Participate:
Participation in A Kid Again is open to children under 20 years old who have been qualified by a medical physician as having a life-threatening illness or condition. Children and their families can participate until the qualifying child is 20 years old. Families who want to participate must fill out the enrollment form and mail it to their local A Kid Again chapter. (A Kid Again was founded in Columbus and has three chapters in Ohio and one in Indiana.) There is no income requirement or cost to participate. A Kid Again is open to all who qualify.
How to Volunteer:
Volunteers are needed to support A Kid Again adventures! You might be able to provide administrative help, be a mentor, make hospital visits or be a hands-on volunteer at one of their events! Click the link to learn more and to fill out a volunteer application.
How to Give:
Participation in A Kid Again is FREE for all families therefore the success of each adventure depends on donations from our community! One adventure costs an average of $35 per child (or family member). You can give to A Kid Again by sponsoring a child, a family or an event. You can also take part in peer to peer fundraising, inviting your friends and family to join in with you by donating your birthday, running a race or hosting a special event to raise money for A Kid Again! Learn more about how how to give here.
Please share this information with families who might be in need of these services but do not know about them!