The celebrations continue in the Geyling household…it’s hard to believe that Rudy’s SEVENTH birthday is just a week away and with every birthday, there comes a deepening of gratitude that is difficult to put into words…honestly. As a caregiver of someone with special needs, I find it takes a concerted effort and, at times, a daily choice to battle entitlement over certain things and services I think we should have as well as not take any of what we do have for granted. Like everything else, it’s a constant balancing act to keep it all in proper perspective. Birthdays are no different…none of us are entitled to our next birthday and, therefore, the addition of another candle on the cake shouldn’t be taken for granted either. In Rudy’s case, the simple milestone of a birthday is less about looking ahead at all the future promise of the new birth year (as birthdays seem to be for my big kids) and is more about looking back at all that has happened in the years leading up to his big day…and being profoundly grateful. 🙂
It has become our family’s tradition to celebrate Rudy’s birthday by helping to raise awareness of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) and funds to support organizations that help kids like Rudy. “Team Rudy” has raised over $50,000 since 2010 for the American Heart Association alone! Amazing! We are still very much behind the work of the AHA and look forward to continued partnership with our local AHA office staff but we are shifting our fundraising focus this year to Camp del Corazon – an organization that we have supported personally for the past 7 years.
Camp del Corazon is a non-profit organization that provides year-round experiential opportunities for children (ages 7-17) faced with the challenges of growing up and living with heart disease. All of its programs are offered to participants free-of-charge and are supervised by a volunteer staff which includes certified RN’s and physicians (many of whom are Rudy’s doctors and nurses at UCLA). It’s primary summer camp is located on Catalina Island, 22 miles off the California coastline. Children from all over the country who go to camp get to experience a “typical” week at summer camp (not available to heart kids in a traditional camp situation) that includes ocean fun, camp fire silliness and cabin shenanigans …a camp environment made safe with a CardioThoracic Unit set up onsite for observation and care of the campers! When the camp started in 1995, it served just 49 campers. Since then, the camp has expanded to serve 300+ campers annually and is looking to add to that number each year.
We know many of the volunteer medical staff and some campers personally and have seen first hand the good that this organization is doing. Camp del Corazon doesn’t just give kids a summer camp experience…it provides support on so many levels…creating community, building confidence and opening up the possibilities of a much bigger world to a group of kids who often feel isolated and different.
We have chosen to highlight Camp del Corazon this year because this is a BIG year for Rudy…as he hits the 7 yr milestone, he becomes eligible to be a camper! Many have asked in the past for an opportunity to give to an organization that will benefit Rudy directly and this is that opportunity!! We look forward to sharing with you Rudy’s extraordinary camp experiences in the years to come!! 🙂
We hope to walk in the CdC Reunion 5K Walk/Run on October 24th in North Hollywood. We invite you to join our fundraising efforts for this event if this is of interest to you but, as always, we don’t want you to feel ANY obligation to donate. Please take a minute to learn more about Camp del Corazon at www.campdelcorazon.org or click the link below to find our family’s fundraising page:
(If you prefer to not donate online, we are happy to accept cash or check donations that we can turn in personally at the walk. Feel free to mail donations to us at 6250 Avenida Gorrion, Goleta, CA 93117)
Thank you for your generosity in the past and thank you for following our journey with Rudy all these years!! Honestly, when Nurse Faye bounced into our CTICU room shortly after Rudy was born and enthusiastically told us about Camp del Corazon and how Rudy would get to go some day, I had a hard time envisioning that day and now here we are!! This is an exciting season for Rudy and we embrace each day for the gift that it is!!!
P.S. A BIG THANK YOU for those who have already donated!! To date, we have raised $2870.00 of our $5000.00 goal!!! Woo Hoo!!! For those who choose to donate, keep an eye out for the traditional thank you from our family via snail mail! Ha Ha 🙂