Allison started attending respite weekends at Camp Sunnyside shortly after her father passed away and her mom, Bobbi Jo, found she was needing more help. Allison has since become a social butterfly. During respite weekends, Allison is known to hangout and sit with children who have extensive limitations with mobility or communication, just to be with them and show them they have a friend. “This brings tears to my eyes and humbleness to my heart,” Bobbi Jo says. “And she can do so much at Camp that we can’t offer her at home, like horseback riding, the rock climbing wall and swimming. But still, I believe her favorite part is just to be able to be around her friends.” Other fun facts about Allison: Allison loves books and associating pictures with words. She loves photos, having her picture taken and remembering/analyzing photos she sees again on her mom’s phone or in a photo album.
John came to Easter Seals in what he says was the rock bottom of his life. He since has attended college, gotten a job as a security officer and given back to the community in countless ways. John says, “Without Easter Seals Iowa, my life would be a complete disaster. Easter Seals changed everything dramatically, for the better. Through the support of Easter Seals I’ve learned about motivation, how to socially have a voice and how to challenge myself.”
When Alyssa thinks of Camp Sunnyside, Alyssa thinks of friends. It’s a theme Alyssa and her mom Bridget both talk about, and the difference these friends have made in her life. At Camp Sunnyside, Alyssa can be herself. At week-long summer camp and during respite weekends, Alyssa enjoys the break from her family, and Bridget enjoys the time to recharge. In addition to attending camp and respite, Alyssa is a Counselor in Training at Camp Sunnyside.
Ambassadors Roy, Celeste and Charity
Spend a little time with the Hodson family and you get the feeling there is rarely a dull moment! Roy, Celeste and their daughter Charity are active in the community volunteering, working and enjoying the arts. They say Easter Seals Iowa has many times gone above and beyond what would have been expected to support them at crucial times in their lives. This is in addition to the tools provided to live independently in the community from budgeting and shopping to focusing on health and wellness. They are pleased to be new ambassadors for the Easter Seals Iowa Walk for Independence this year.
Nick says he lives independently because of the support Easter Seals Iowa provides to him. His favorite things about Easter Seals Iowa are the connections provided to social activities, meeting new people and making new friends. Nick says, "I wouldn't have the same opportunities to get into the community and network with new people if I wasn't involved with Easter Seals Iowa." In addition to all the social activities, Nick enjoys going to Iowa Wild games and action movies.
Ashley’s beautiful smile will be the first thing you notice. Her friendliness and love of life is what will stay with you. Ashley has participated in many Easter Seals Iowa programs and has successfully moved on to living independently with her two roommates. She also loves going to Camp Sunnyside in the summer. Ashley says that Easter Seals Iowa is like a family to her and is always there for her.
Shirah’s favorite thing about Easter Seals Iowa is having the opportunity to live independently and being able to do activities that she would not be able to do without support. Shirah has a great sense of humor; just spend some time with her! She loves to go swimming and to dances. Shirah also loves being a Walk for Independence Ambassador.
Sarah says Easter Seals Iowa supports her in reaching her goals and keeping her accountable. She is excited to be a Walk for Independence Ambassador because she gets to help the organization with other team members and Easter Seals Iowa clients. Sara recently made a big decision to live independently. Supported Community Living Team Leader Emily says, “Sarah has done a great job adjusting to living independently, and we are so excited to have her as part of our program.”
Laura says, “When I was 18 years old, I was in a near fatal car accident. As a result, I am left with a lifelong disability. Before Easter Seals Iowa, I was dependent on everyone’s kindness to get to work or school or an event, and to keep a roof over my head. With Easter Seals Iowa support, I was able to become independent. Easter Seals Iowa gave me hope, which is critical for a person to get from one day to the next with a disability; hope and belief that I can live, learn, work and play in my community. Being asked to be an Easter Seals Iowa Ambassador was a true blessing for me. I get the opportunity to spread the word about the need for services for people with disabilities and let the community know about all Easter Seals Iowa has to offer.”
Meghan says, “I love being an Easter Seals Iowa Ambassador at all of the events but especially Walk for Independence. Easter Seals Iowa means everything to me. It lets me be independent so I don’t have to live with my parents. I have lived independently with the support of Easter Seals Iowa 24-Hour Supported Community Living for six years. I am in Special Olympics, Best Buddies, swimming and soccer. I also like karaoke. I volunteer twice a week at a nursing home in Altoona. I like animals and SpongeBob SquarePants."
Blake has been attending Camp Sunnyside since he was nine years old. He LOVES the staff at camp! His interests at camp include fishing, boating, playing games and all water activities. Easter Seals Iowa has made a huge impact on Blake's independence, helping him go from 1:1 ratio to volunteering at the Bob and Billie Ray Child Development Center.