Grower Profile: “Grizzie”

Written by Samantha Zepeda. Posted in Blog

GrizzieHow did you become involved with the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation?

I had a friend, Retired Deputy Chief  Don Ciucci from the Daly City Fire Department, who was an instructor at the College of San Mateo.  His daughter, Angelina, was a Champ Camp counselor, and he thought that I might also enjoy the Camp.  I like working with kids, so I interviewed to be a counselor in 2008.  I am happy to say that I have been to Champ Camp every year for the past 6 years, except for one year when I was in paramedic school.  It is a life changing experience!

What is your favorite part of being a Champ Camp counselor?

My favorite part of being a Champ Camp counselor is seeing how much the kids evolve in just the short time from when they arrive at camp, to a week later when they are getting on the bus to go home.  The kids open up so much during their time at camp, and are able to do things that they never had the opportunity to do before.  I am happy to be a part of it!

What impact does your mustache have on you?

My mustache is my alter ego.  I grow wiser with each strand of hair.

Guest Post by “Kamikaze”

Written by Samantha Zepeda. Posted in Blog

 Lea Pic 2My 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 AARLea Pic 1BF 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!

E-hugs, “Kamikaze”