MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue Lieutenant was honored by city council on Tuesday for work, but not the work he does when he straps on his boots. Lieutenant Al Nord was honored for his volunteer work with Camp Can Do.
At camp, Nord is known as Big Al. He's the only firefighter who has been to Camp Can Do every single summer since it started two decades ago.
"I run the fishing program, I take the kids fishing every day," Nord said. For some of the kids, it's their first time catching a fish.
Camp Can Do is a five-day camp on Seabrook Island, just south of Charleston.
"Today's world is all focused on pretty people, and body image," Nord said.
It's a place where kids can just be kids, according to Nord, and not be stared at or treated differently, because the kids at camp don't all look like everyone else. Each one was once treated at MUSC's burn center, all seriously burned at some point in their young lives.
"There's no one to gawk at them and ask them questions, it's just a summer camp where they can just let loose and have fun," Nord described.
Kids with different but similar stories, aged 5-17 in one place. For many, sharing their experiences helps heal scars that can't be seen by the naked eye.
"Burn injuries are one of the worst injuries your body can sustain," Nord added. "So it's a lot of trauma to deal with. But then depending on the scars, it's the emotional trauma that really lasts a lifetime."
So Nord and firefighters and nurses across the state volunteer every year.
"We know what the kids have been through," Nord explained. "Being in the emergency service, fire department, working in the hospitals, we understand the severity of burn injuries."
Tuesday, Nord was recognized for the work he does out of his boots, helping to heal. "It's a confidence builder to see that you can still do whatever you want to do just because you got a scar or injury doesn't mean you're any different than who you are, you're still the same person. I'll be going to camp forever, as long as I can get around."
The camp is held annually in the summer, typically in July or August. Visit scburnchildrensfund.org for information.