Kids let loose at MDA summer camp - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Kids let loose at MDA summer camp


CAMP LAKE (WKOW) -- Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp is a place where wheelchairs don't matter, where disabilities don't exist and where kids can just let loose.

About 45 children affected by neuromuscular disease came out to Camp Wonderland this summer for a week of fun in Camp Lake, Wisconsin. It's something they wait for all year long. 

Thirteen-year-old Annie Heathcote has been participating for years.

Annie says, "Every time it's over I say, '365 days until next year."

Camp Wonderland is one of two MDA camps in Wisconsin.

Nick DeLeo has been attending for 31 years.

"We all have disabilities", says Nick. "Because one is more obvious than another doesn't mean that we don't have to deal with our imperfections when we leave the camp as well. So they accept ours, we accept theirs. It makes for a nice mix."

There are 77 MDA camps throughout the country funded entirely by donations.

It costs about $800 per camper, but because of public contributions, families don't pay a penny.

"It's really a great opportunity for parents as well, to know that they're in great hands and having a great week and it's no extra expense to them," says Healthcare Services Coordinator Ellen Kleinmaus.

Each child is paired one-on-one with their own counselor for the week.

"Once you see them here you realize they're surrounded by people that are facing similar things and they really come out of their shell," says Kleinmaus.

At camp, they're part of the team, not on the sidelines.

"The disability of the chair fades into the background. It's white noise. There's no distinction anymore," says DeLeo.

Heathcote agrees. "You get to see other people who have disabilities like you. So you see it and it's nice to make new friends and they understand what you go through every day."

They understand and they learn from each other. And by the end of the week, they become a family.

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