In Alumni in Action

A heartwarming story of courage and hope – Our alums, Max Mancini and Jen Schumacher, 2015 MA Counseling Psychology.
“We have these camps to help increase self esteem and build confidence in children living with medical challenges,” Mancini said Thursday. “We like to do everything for free for the families. They have huge medical bills and they put up with so much already, it’s great to take the kids for free and the parents get a break. For some of our campers, it’s their first night away from home.”

Former skier and Life Turns Aspen co-founder uses camps to empower children with medical conditions

Among the nine children, cerebral palsy was the most prevalent medical condition. The neurological disorder is a byproduct of brain damage — often developing as a child’s brain is still growing — and can affect body movement and muscle coordination.

On the outside, the disorder can be noticeable. On the inside, the children remain children, full of joy and wonder despite everything.

“When we were in the car driving for this trip, they talked about it. They talked about how people respond to them and what that is like,” Allison Daily said. “Ava, she was talking and she said, ‘My brain thinks everything about me is perfect and normal, but my body doesn’t agree with me.'”

Ava, 12, was among the small group of Front Range children to take part in the Life Turns Aspen camp last week. Ranging from age 12 to 15, the Children’s Hospital Colorado patients experienced a three-day rafting trip, horseback riding and the simplicity of sleeping in a tent under the stars.

For many, it was their first time away from home and away from their parents. Along with cerebral palsy, medical conditions for this particular group of three girls and six boys also included autism and Kabuki syndrome.

“It’s pretty funny to watch the parents and the kids. The parents are usually more nervous,” Max Mancini said. “The ultimate goal is for these kids to have a support network going home, so they can challenge themselves and get out of their comfort zones and learn how capable and independent they can be. We try to empower them.”

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