Mother struggles to raise funds for summer camp for kids with sp -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Mother struggles to raise funds for summer camp for kids with special needs

. - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A local mother is pulling out all the stops to give her son, his
friends, and others like them a place to go for summer camp.

But the cost to make it happen is so high it could hinder her plans, despite people in the community coming together to help her make the dream a reality.

It's a summer camp unlike any other in Horry County. It will give special kids a place to make friends and motivate each other, while getting the
one on one attention they need from trained adults. 

Anita Howell got the idea last summer. She has been working since August to make the camp, Camp Smiles, a reality.

"In the summer, he didn't have anything to do," Howell explained. "And then we ran into a group of children... when they started talking to him, he started rocking his chair so hard that it was moving across the room."

Her son Ryan has Cerebral Palsy. His best friend, and partner in crime, Ethan, has Down Syndrome.

"You can't just take your child and drop them off somewhere for a camp," Howell said. "Because they can't tell you if something's not going well, and most places aren't equipped to handle them anyway." 

Because they rely on another person to take care of them, "So you get into a very stressful situation in the summer where these families need to provide for their family, they need to put a roof over the child's head, but they need to take care of the child."

And for kids like Evan and Ryan, it's so important to keep learning, progressing with development. That's hard to do if you aren't learning and interacting during the summer, and many learn best by interacting with each other.

"We'll have four blocks," Howell said of Camp Smiles' program. "It'll be art, literacy, adaptive P.E and music therapy."

Howell talked to a professor at CCU who jumped at the opportunity to help. The university is donating space on campus for Camp Smiles this summer, and students will be interning and volunteering their time.

The camp will last six weeks, as long as Howell can secure the funding.

But that's the tricky part. Many people will volunteer their time, but there will have to be a person helping each child. "Just to get that group of people together to make that happen, it's about 65,000 dollars for six weeks."

So, Howell created a GoFundMe-page and has been fundraising all around the county. She's about halfway to that number right now, so there's s long way to go. 

Camp Smiles will start June 15.

To learn how to donate to help the program last all six weeks, or lend a hand another way, visit the GoFundMe page or the Camp Smiles Facebook page.

South Strand Assembly of God will donate a portion of their bike week fundraiser to Camp Smiles.

The below are ways local businesses are getting the community to help fundraise:

Addy's Harbor Dodge will donate $20 per test drive during the month of May when mentioning Camp Smiles.

Sweet Frogs will donate 15 percent of all sales that mention Camp Smiles to the camp May 7th.

South State Bank will donate $5 for each new account that opens on May 7th when mentioning the camp.

Honest Auto will donate a percentage of their sales for May to Camp Smiles.

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