For one week in June, two University of St. Thomas students forged lifetime friendships and brightened the lives of children with neuromuscular diseases.
Sarah Lutz, a junior education major, and Rosemary Tran, a senior biology major, served as counselors at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp from June 6-12. The MDA Camp builds bridges and breaks barriers for young children with muscular dystrophy and related diseases. Each year, MDA supports roughly 90 summer camps across the country at no charge to families. The camps provide a place specially designed for people who have limited mobility or use wheelchairs.
Lutz first volunteered at MDA Camp as a service project at St. Pius X High School and she was inspired to return for the third time this year. She spent the week with nine-year-old College Station-native Dontaveon Pool.
“MDA Camp is just an incredible week,” Lutz said. “You walk away with such fulfillment in your heart knowing that you’re helping the campers and their families,” Lutz said. “ I get so much more out of it than I could ever give.”
She sees this rewarding experience as an extension of her education to become a teacher.
“As a classroom teacher, I’ll be working with children who have physical disabilities,” Lutz said. “MDA Camp taught me how to approach different situations with students. I now know how to connect to students and engage children with disabilities in the classroom.”
This was the first year that Tran volunteered as a counselor. Her camper was Cameron Zuntag, a nine-year-old boy who uses a wheelchair.
“I learned so much from my camper,” Tran said. “He is so strong and courageous and he can do so much on his own. He truly lives life to the fullest.”
Tran’s said her background in biology gave her greater insight into the physical aspects of her camper’s disability.
“My biology classes helped me understand muscular dystrophy and how it affects Cameron and many others,” Tran said. “Working with the campers gave me hope for future treatments and showed me that what we do in the lab has the potential to impact the lives of so many people with neuromuscular disabilities.”
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education. MDA maintains medical clinics nationwide for adults and children with muscular dystrophy and related diseases.