Twenty-one adults with disabilities made lifelong friends during the inaugural session of Trailways Camp in LaBelle, including a dozen volunteers from the Sanibel Community Church.
The Trailways Camp is a partnership between Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida and The Robert V. and Benjamin G. Miller Fund.
The session, which ran Oct. 22-25, included fishing, campfire roasts, a visit by Special Equestrians, swimming, a talent show, a Halloween party, and more. The four-day camp was held at the Riverside Retreat Center in LaBelle.
Sanibel Community Church volunteer Clint Parsons (left) visits with camper Joshua Rees.
The Trailways Camp mission is to remove the social isolation often felt by people with disabilities by providing opportunities for fun, friends and support. Volunteers helped to facilitate outdoor activities, group exercises, crafts and more in order for campers to have the opportunity to develop recreational skills and build relationships.
"Our volunteers really made it all possible, with warmth and love and commitment," said camp coordinator Todd Ryan, Goodwill's director of career development services. "The distance that they were willing to travel really showed their dedication to making the camp special for our participants."
In addition to Sanibel Community Church members, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-27) and several of her staff members stopped by to volunteer. They assisted campers on a hayride, served lunch, and helped participants paint pumpkins during a Halloween arts and crafts project.
"I don't believe there was a moment when a camper wasn't smiling," says Benacquisto. "I applaud Goodwill for their diverse programs and their ability to enrich so many lives."