BOUNTIFUL—For a child with muscular dystrophy, riding a horse or swimming might be just a dream. But funds raised through Associated Food Stores across the state help make those dreams come true at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) summer camp.
Last Thursday Jeff Holmes, store director for Dick’s Market in Bountiful presented a check for $78,772 to the MDA on behalf of Dick’s Market, Macey’s, Lin’s, Dan’s and Fresh Market who raised the funds during the 35th annual MDA Shamrocks program.
From Feb. 15 through March 17, as shoppers checked out they could purchase an MDA Shamrock for a $1, $5 or more donation. Customers signed the Shamrocks then they were displayed in each store to symbolize strength, independence and life for MDA families.
“It costs about $2,000 per child to send them to camp,” said MDA Executive Director Lisa Miller. “This pays for about 40 kids. Most of them need 24/7 caregivers. This gives them a break too. None of these diseases have a cure so we’re just handling the symptoms. They have to see a lot of doctors. If we didn’t have the MDA clinic where they can see everyone in one place they’d be consumed with appointments. It’s beneficial to their quality of life.”
Stephani Gansen’s daughter Hailee has gone to camp before and plans to go again this summer. “It gives them more independence,” she said. “I could tell a difference in her from before she went to after. She started getting herself dressed and showered. She’s made so many friends. She can be herself and doesn’t have to worry about what other kids say.”
“I got to go horseback riding,” said Hailee. “The horse was deaf and blind so I had to say ‘giddy up’ really loud.”
Children have to be at least 6 years old before they can go to camp, so 4-year-old Myiles Rojas isn’t quite old enough yet but he’s the West Valley City MDA Ambassador.
“We’ve gone up to camp and volunteered,” said his mother Alisha Johnson. “It’s good to get used to it before he’s old enough to go. The kids there are happy and included. It’s awesome to see that no children are being left out. For a week out of the year they just get to be a kid. It’s fun.”
Myiles is in a wheelchair and Miller said the MDA helps provide that kind of equipment to families who need it.
“We have an equipment loan program,” she said. “It’s not like the library where you have it for two weeks, you take it and it’s yours until you don’t need it. All that equipment is pricey so call us and we’ll help out. Sometimes we don’t have the resources but call us and we’re going to find it.”
Holmes said his staff worked together to support the fundraising effort. “It’s bigger than our store,” he said. “It’s a company initiative that typically we do once a year. We determined it was a great cause at our store level so we decided to lead the charge to try to make a difference. We also set up root beer float and donut tables where people could donate. Some of the MDA kids came and participated. It was a neat thing to include the children so that they could understand what takes place on their behalf. It was a win-win. We love being a part of it.”
One Dick’s clerk had raised more than $600 over the course of working his register.
“I enjoy helping out,” he said. “It gives me such a good feeling – that’s why I do it.”
“Someone like that is what makes the difference,” said Miller. “Someone who asks every time. There are very generous people in the community.”