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Camp Merrywood to open this summer!
For the 76th time March is Easter Seals month, a time when the Easter Seals Society raises awareness of children with disabilities and the need to help their family’s fund the cost of the very expensive equipment they need in order to be mobile.
It is also when the Rotary Club of Kingston takes the lead in assisting The Easter Seal Society in raising funds in the Kingston area. The Club first began its leadership in 1947, although it had been making donations since 1928.

As a result, this year Todd Colbourne, chair of the Club’s Easter Seals Committee, organized and moderated this year’s Easter Seals Campaign kickoff at the Club’s February 16th luncheon meeting.
Colbourne began by introducing the Easter Seals guests: Regional Easter Seals rep and Easter Seals mom Linda Clouthier. Laura Patterson and her son Bo, Rachel Hornbak whose daughter Harlee couldn't be there because of school and by Zoom, Keith Rashid, Manager of Recreation and Facilities for Ontario, Easter Seals. Each made a presentation to the Club.
Todd began his presentation with a brief overview of slides describing who and what Easter Seals is, who they serve, what they do and what they believe. He spent more time on how they help families with such programs as funding mobility and accessibility funding, a fully accessible summer camp, post-secondary scholarships and a youth ambassador program.
There are three ways everyone can help:
  • Join an Easter Seals fund raising campaign,
  • Sponsor a business ad by Feb 28,
  • Participate in the “Curl for Kids” tournament

The Club ES fundraising team, also have offline donation methods. Please contact Linda Clouthier to make such a donation.

The first guest to present was Keith Rashid.

Keith Rashid (Manager of Recreation and Facilities for Ontario, Easter Seals.):

Rashid said, This is an exciting year for 2023". He thanked all of us for our support of Easter Seals. Keith said it means a lot to increase capacity for the children and young adults living with disabilities at Camp Merrywood and Camp Woodeden.
Rashid has brought back both summer recreation programs for 2023.Registration opened two and a half weeks ago and already 300 children have registered. Keith closed by sharing a video of campers and on site staff showing what the camp was about.


Linda Cloutier: Mother, Rotarian and Community Development Officer at Easter Seals Ontario

Linda spoke as the mother of Grayson. She thanked us for our generosity. She said it was scary when her son was first diagnosed. Linda got in touch with wonderful families who are very supportive and Easter Seals who provided funding to allow Grayson to come to our events.  The equipment allows a child to live a normal life.

Laura Patterson and Bo:


Laura spoke eloquently about the cost of having a disabled child.
The first equipment she needed was a bath chair that cost $1500. Even though both her and her partner have  good jobs and insurance, the insurance company wouldn't cover it.
When she needed a wheelchair stroller with a  $13,000 cost, insurance only covered a portion.
Equipment is needed for Bo to sit, move, relax and play. Easter seals helps but the stress is ongoing  for families. For example Bo went through 3 pairs of AFO Medical Braces in one year, and they're $1400 each! Track, slings, and shower chair: all of these things seem to come at one time as the child grows, and each costs thousands. It would have cost $45000 just to convert their Honda Odyssey so the purchase a new Dodge Caravan with the ability to roll Bo in and out plus provided enough room for the whole family.


Rachel Hornbeck and Harlee (who is in school and unable to attend).

Harlee is 7 years old and in grade 2. She loves school and is adored by the teachers and staff. She has a contagious laugh, loves being around people, going in walks in her adapted stroller, and swimming.
At 2 months old, she started having seizures and was  taken to KDH and brain abnormalities were discovered. After 4 more months of tests a disease which only affects girls, lesions where found on  Harlee's retinas. At that point her parents knew that her overall development was going to be impacted. At 3 it had become also cerebral palsy.
Harlee cannot walk independently, is nonverbal, and can't use her right hand well. She is an physiotherapist, occupational therapist, ophthalmologist, and speech pathologist.
Rachel was introduced to Easter Seals when Harlee needed physio at 3 months old. But she didn't know how costly it would be to a wheelchair for Harlee at 3 and half years, plus a chair, a walker, and an AFO brace. The latter cost $2000 each every year othe cost of which Ontario pays 75percent, and the other 25 needs to be paid by the family.
Without such equipment children like Harlee would not be able to leave the house and participate like other children. Easter Seals assists with the cost of equipment. thus reducing some of the worry about cost.
Hornbeck is looking forward  to Harlee attending Camp Merrywood which is only an hour from her home, however, she is not ready to send her to camp just yet. Its mom who will be the one camping outside the gates she quipped.


Todd answered questions: some equipment can be reused or repurposed, but much is custom made and can't be reuse. He  finished by sharing the video Keirra’s Story which is shared below.
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