My little brother and I were burned in a house fire just before my 13th birthday. At the time, I thought it was the end of the world for us. The months following our injuries were a monumental time of change. We had to come to terms with our new scarred appearances, had countless surgeries and fought off horrible infections. Because I had never met a burned person before, I assumed our situation was the worst one possible.
However, that summer, I attended the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation Champ Camp for burn survivors. In one short week, my perspective was changed forever. Children missing arms were throwing footballs and drawing beautiful pieces of art; children without legs were climbing up telephone poles in ropes courses. The Champ Camp counselors welcomed us with open arms and gave us love without bias or judgment. They gave me the courage to laugh, dance, and have fun like a kid should. It changed my life forever. I decided that when I got older, I wanted to give back to this community and become a volunteer, myself, and I have been attending events with AARBF ever since. Now, at 26, I volunteer for as many events as possible so that maybe, one day, I can change the life of a child, just like AARBF did for me and my brother. Experiences with the burn foundation helped me decide to pursue a career in nursing which will allow me to give back more to these same “helpless” patients and assist them in realizing that they are not victims but people who can adapt and overcome adversity and live the lives that they truly deserve.
I have volunteered at the various Grow Your ‘Stache finale events for the last few years. This year, though, a couple of the AARBF gals and I happened to be at the AARBF Central Coast Trip (where kids get to learn how to surf and kayak!) and we turned to one another and decided that we were not going to let our lack of ability to grow facial hair get in our way of raising money for AARBF. If we could raise enough money to send a child to Champ Camp…Man, that would be a dream come true! So we formed the HAIRRBF Ladies Grow Your ‘Stache team to make this dream a eality.
AARBF changes lives – the lives of burn survivors, their families, and the volunteers. We have become a tight-knit family. There isn’t anything that we wouldn’t do for one another. It is an honor to be part of such a wonderful community.
Thank you so much for all that you do and for supporting AARBF!