Stepping Out of Comfort Zones and into Camp
Posted on: Friday January 12, 2018
Amy Muegge wasn’t sure about going to a Victory Lane Camp summer session last year. She was hesitant about taking her daughter into a new environment, and she was uncertain about raising the money to attend camp. It took some encouragement from an unlikely source to help her to take the leap and attend camp. Amy was introduced to the idea of Victory Lane Camp through one of her friends a few years ago. Amy’s initial thought was, “nope.” She explained, “It was something I wanted to do, but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to make the money to take Emma. And the idea of taking care of Emma somewhere that was different was really daunting to me.” Some time passed before another friend… this time one of Emma’s friends… reintroduced the idea of attending a Victory Lane Camp session. Emma had formed a close friendship with Jadyn Youngquist. Amy described how their connection developed, “Emma had a teacher in elementary school that really tried to foster to relationships between typical and non-typical kids. When I would see Jadyn, she would talk about how much she liked Emma.” Determined to see her friend thrive at camp, Jadyn decided to pursue Amy after a Christmas program and talk with her about taking Emma to camp. “I had my mind set that night on finding her mom and talking to her about coming to camp. I basically walked over there and just said ‘Hi, I’m Jadyn from Emma’s school, and I’m her best friend.’” Jadyn shared. Amy recognized Jadyn from the letter she had sent to their home about her friendship with Emma. For Amy, the letter continues to touch her. “It was the first time that I realized Emma could have friends. It warmed my heart so much. To think that Emma’s world could be more than just me and her dad and her sister. There’s people out there that care about people like Emma. It was somebody who purely wanted to spend time with Emma because she loves her for who she is,” she expressed. Toward the end of 2016, Emma and Amy attended a VLC Christmas party. They were becoming more interested in camp, but Amy still had reservations on the finances and the idea of camping in general. She stated, “I thought it was such a great thing, but it took me years to go. I kept getting different glimpses into it. It was almost like ‘you’re meant to do this’ so we did.” After hearing their decision to go to camp, Jadyn was excited to spend time with Emma, get to know her better, and have fun at camp. She shared, “As we got closer to camp, I realized what I wanted for Emma was for other people to get to know her and love her as much as I do. It was my mission to help the connections I had at camp to get to know and love her like I do.” Amy wasn’t sure about camp at the beginning, but described, “It was better than I expected. It was wonderful. It was nice to be able to relax. It felt comfortable. It was nice having a group of teens include Emma. While I was sitting and talking to Lori (Fowler), they would come ask to take Emma with them. And Emma loved it. The girls still talk to some of the kids that we met there.” Amy has some advice for parents thinking about attending a Victory Lane Camp summer session. “It will be stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s worth trying. It’s an atmosphere of acceptance and love and fun and encouragement. I don’t know why somebody wouldn’t want to do that. It’s worth facing fears and doing it.” Since encouraging Emma’s family to attend camp, Jadyn is grateful for the experiences they were able to share. She expressed, “It was magical. It was kind of a dream of come true to help me get other people to recognize what an amazing person Emma is. She’s such a good person, and she’s always so happy.”
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Looking Forward to 2018
Posted on: Monday December 18, 2017
As we wrap up 2017, we are thankful for the experiences we’ve shared as a Victory Lane Camp community. We’re also hopeful about what’s ahead in 2018. Here’s some of what you can look forward to in the new year: Camps: Pull out your calendar and get these camp dates on the schedule. The summer of 2018 will start with the first session of camp, designed for returning Victory families, at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, Indiana. Victory families will be at camp from June 7-10 and serving families from June 6-10. The second camp session is at Cornerstone Campground in New Castle, Indiana. Victory families will attend from July 19-22 and serving families from July 18-22. Registration will open in January. Follow Victory Lane Camp on Facebook and Twitter for updates. Events: Because VLC is “S’more” than a camp, we’re already planning several events for the year. We’re hosting Parents’ Night Out events in February and August. We are also planning our annual pool party in June and Chili Cook-off in September. There are plans to mix things up a little bit with some new events. Be sure to get updates delivered to your email inbox to stay informed as the year progresses. VLC MarketPlace: If you’re interested in well-made furniture items that you can purchase while supporting Victory Lane Camp, check out the VLC MarketPlace. An anonymous craftsman is donating time and skill to create beautiful, hand-crafted furniture. These items are being sold through Facebook on the Victory Lane Camp MarketPlace. All profits made from these pieces will go to VLC. Items are priced from $20 to $200. Tiffanny Youngquist, Assistant Director, is looking forward to the coming year. “I am always excited about meeting the new families that will join our VLC community through our summer camps. This year I am also very excited that we are extending an invitation to all the women of VLC (all those who have been to camp) to our Women’s Refresh weekend in May.” There’s much to anticipate in the year ahead, and we continue to appreciate each of you who are part of the Victory Lane Camp community.
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Unexpected Blessings: The Bowmans Grow Through Serving
Posted on: Friday December 8, 2017
Billy and Wendy Bowman’s involvement with Victory Lane Camp began with Brett and Paige Fischer sharing a presentation about VLC in their home. They became monthly prayer partners and donated financially. As their connection with the VLC community continued to develop and grow, the Bowmans began to see change and growth within their own family. “We led meal teams from our church for several years and then we were finally able to come to camp this past summer,” explained Wendy. Their participation extends beyond camp: they enjoy attending the VLC events throughout the year. The Bowman’s four children are also taking part in the community. “Our oldest son, Tucker, is participating in the TIMs program. He is learning how to be a great leader and think about how he can incorporate serving others into his everyday life.” Wendy continued to share more of their children’s experiences, “My boys loved interacting with all the other kids at camp and getting to play gaga ball to their hearts’ content! Conner liked playing with Bracy and Caden. Tucker enjoyed getting to know Luke Miller better. Tanner enjoyed the hot air balloon ride at the Chili Cook-off. Sawyer just likes to go around and talk to everyone.” One of their favorite memories at camp this summer was talking with Victory parents Cyndi and Kai Johnson while watching Leah, Rebecca, and Aiden Johnson catch fish after fish and a turtle or two. Wendy also appreciated the time they had with Brenda and Doug Miller, who are both Victory parents and a serving family. She expressed, “Brenda and Doug helped us learn how to be better servants for the Victory families.” Some of Bowmans’ connections began before their involvement with VLC. Wendy explained, “We have reconnected with old friends. I actually used to work with Amy Muegge (daughter Emma). After my family decided to homeschool I quit working, we lost communication for the last 5 years or so. When I heard that her family was coming to camp this summer, I was so excited! We have reconnected and have loved getting to know their whole family better.” One of the unexpected blessings of their VLC involvement was watching their family grow and change as a result. Wendy shared, “We have made a family mission statement and have family meetings each week. We have a common language when we need to take a ‘stop!’ We are growing closer together and closer to God as a team.”
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Why We’re Thankful
Posted on: Tuesday November 21, 2017
As 2017 winds down, we’re overwhelmed with thankfulness for the many blessings that have come from the Victory Lane Camp community. Here is a list of 10 things we’re thankful for this year. Victory Families- Ten new Victory Families joined us this year, and each family has brought so much to our community. We’re also thankful for the way ALL of our Victory Families have been involved this year, from attending monthly events to participating in camp. Church/Organization Partners- Many churches and service organizations help with various “behind-the-scenes” aspects of Victory Lane Camp, and their support is very appreciated. For example, Sulphur Springs Church sponsored the Cast Part for this year’s VLC Talent Night. Ten churches and service groups provided meals at our July camp session. TIMs (Teens In Mission)- This year we had a record 24 teens participate in camp, including a youth group. Eight teens are participating in a year-long training and volunteer program. Sierra Anderson-Firle, who served as the intern coordinating the TIMs program, had this to say about the TIMs, “Both the Serving Families and Victory Families told me that the TIMs were a huge help.” Serving Families- TIMs weren’t the only group setting records. The number of Serving Families also set a record, with 29 families giving their time and energy to serve at a summer camp session. The Clemens family was one of the families who served this summer. “I loved being associated with a family, having a specific role, finding fellowship and building community,” expressed Kristina Clemens. Pit Crew Members- Pit crews are the teams of people who help keep VLC running year- round. All pit crews worked to make 2017 a successful year of building the VLC community. We are thankful for the two new pit crew members who joined us this year: Audrea Thatcher and Nancy Wadman. Board of Directors- As Victory Lane Camp continues to grow, we rely heavily on the wonderful group of Christians leaders who have stepped up to help guide this organization. Their advice and active involvement is something we’re extremely thankful for. Prayer Partners- Victory Lane Camp was built on a foundation of prayer, and as we grow, we recognize the continued importance of prayer. We’re thankful for the faithful prayer partners who covered us in prayer to make this a fantastic year. Corporate Sponsors- The support of corporate sponsors makes it possible for us to operate and provide quality experiences for Victory Families. This year’s corporate sponsors are Bethany Cares Home Health Agency, Tri-State Forestry Services, Inc., Bruderer, Midwest Orthotic & Technology Center, Superior Van & Mobility, Henry County Community Foundation, ASI, Just Mulch Inc., Colour’z, Focal Point Coaching, Huffman Family Chiropractic, Big O Tires, Numotion, Cornerstone Campground, Verizon/TCC, Sproles Corp., Parkview Family Dentistry, Baumgartner Commercial, Don Criswell Construction, Bradford Woods, 321Go Kids’ Rehab, 321Go Family, and Senior Living at Forest Ridge. Donors- We’re also thankful for individual donors who do their part to support Victory Lane Camp. This year, we have the abundant blessing of an anonymous donor who is matching all new monthly donors… each month up to $1,500! Learn more about this opportunity at www.VictoryLaneCamp.org/give.php You! Every person who’s involved with Victory Lane Camp is someone who we are thankful for. Whether you just stumbled on this story today and are learning about VLC for the first time, or whether you were part of the founding group of pioneers who helped begin this organization, we’re thankful for YOU, and we look forward to a bright future ahead!
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VLC Stars Shine At Talent Night
Posted on: Friday November 10, 2017
Tears and laughter were in abundance at the recent Victory Lane Camp Talent Night. Children involved with Victory Lane Camp shared songs, comedy, a magic show, and a dance routine. For each act, the parents of the “star” gave a short introduction of what they had learned from their children. Throughout the evening, other members of the Victory Lane Camp community shared skits and stories. Victory Lane Camp Founder Brett Fischer and camp song leader Mike Brown served as emcees for the event. The evening began with AJ Wise singing a duet with his dad, Jimmy. Before the song, AJ’s mom, Tabatha, talked about AJ’s life as he deals with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. “As life has gotten tougher, he’s the one encouraging us,” she expressed. Greg and Christine Carey were next, introducing their son Alex, who has autism. Greg and Christine talked about how being involved with Victory Lane Camp helped them appreciate every aspect of Alex. Alex shared a comedy routine, and included his dad and some of his friends from Victory Lane Camp in his act. Rebecca Johnson, along with her sister Leah, followed with a dance routine set to the Katy Perry song “Roar.” The sisters’ parents, Kaj and Cyndi Johnson provided a touching story about living with Rebecca’s multiple medical complications. “When I look at her, she’s not broken,” noted Cyndi. “I love and accept her for the little girl she is.” Amy Smith introduced her son Joe Hewitt by sharing about his determination. Amy wasn’t sure if Joe would be able to walk when he was born with some developmental challenges. He’s gone on to do more than walk, he participated on his school’s cross country team this year. “He puts 100 percent into everything he does. He’s an inspiration to us.” Amy said. Joe presented a magic show, complete with disappearing crayons and a magically appearing flower. The next act featured Caden Upchurch, who demonstrated different types of “dabbing” in a comical way. His parents, David and Dara Upchurch talked about Caden’s strength in dealing with his disability. “Nothing is in his way,” David stated. At this point in the program, Brett Fischer invited Shane Osting, athletic director at New Castle High School, to the stage along with athletes Nicolas Grieser and James Thompson. Brett awarded the Victory Award to the New Castle High School Athletic Department for embracing people with disabilities through the recent formation of the unified track team and other inclusive activities. The program concluded with Crystal Ingram introducing her daughter Ruby. “From day one of her diagnosis, I’ve learned not to put limits on her,” Crystal shared. “She taught me never to give up.” Ruby then took the stage and invited all the kids in the audience to “come on up!” The kids served as her backup singers as they recreated a campfire scene and Ruby sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Following the program, members of the cast hosted a party, sponsored by Sulphur Springs Christian Church and met audience members. Local Girl Scout Troup 420 served ice cream to those in attendance. The Talent Night served as a fundraising event for Victory Lane Camp. A generous donor is offering a matching monthly donation for all new monthly donations. A big thank you to all the new monthly donors who emerged at the event. There is still a need for more monthly donors. Find out more at www.VictoryLaneCamp.org/give.php
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New Pit Crew Members Find Ways to Serve VLC Families
Posted on: Thursday October 26, 2017
Victory Lane Camp relies heavily on the dedication of several teams of volunteers, called Pit Crews. As VLC expands, the need for new Pit Crew members increases. Audrea Thatcher and Nancy Wadman are part of VLC Pit Crews. Let’s hear their stories: Audrea’s Story- As the mother of a child with special needs, Audrea Thatcher understands the need for support and outreach. “When I was raising my daughter, I just didn’t feel like there was enough support out there for people. I just would like to make a connection with the families of kids with special needs.” Audrea is retired from the State Police but keeps busy doing art classes at nursing homes and substitute teaching in schools. Her high-functioning daughter, Mary, is grown and working in her adult life. Now Audrea is seeking ways to get involved and give to others who are experiencing what she did while raising Mary. “It had to be a God thing. I just could not get the families with special needs off of my mind,” shared Audrea. She brought her concern for outreach to her minister and his wife. Having been involved with camp before, the Buskirks pointed Audrea in the direction of Victory Lane Camp. Audrea jumped right in and joined the Event Planning Pit Crew. She’s been to one meeting and one event, and she’s working on finishing her training. She wants to continue to see activities for kids with special needs take place. “I was really impressed with the tethered balloon rides. There are so many activities that ‘normal people’ do that people assume kids with disabilities can’t do. I’d like to see more activities like that,” expressed Audrea. “It’s easy to overlook the fact that kids who have special needs are just like everyone else. I like to see events that might normally be out of their comfort zones, but they would enjoy doing.” Nancy’s Story- Nancy Wadman spent 39 years teaching sixth grade. She has since retired, but enjoys working with kids and volunteering. Nancy’s connection with Victory Lane Camp comes through knowing Brett and Paige Fischer. Nancy also helped her church serve meals at camp. “I have heard Brett talk, and I’m really taken with the philosophy of serving the whole family and not just the child,” Nancy explained. “It takes the whole family, and you really have to work with all of them to make life happy for the child.” For now, Nancy prefers the idea of staying behind the scenes on the Finance Pit Crew. “I’m trying to help in the best way I can. That’s being on the Finance Pit Crew right now,” she shared. But she hopes to continue to see growth. Nancy expressed, “I would like to see more people in the community become active and involved. There’s still lots of room for local people to get involved and realize how important it is. We’re working hard on extending throughout the state and hopefully someday out of state. It certainly has a future of growing.” Victory Lane Camp is made up of many moving parts with several options for places to plug in. If you are looking for a way to become involved in VLC, consider joining a Pit Crew and contact Tiffanny at 765-591-4191 for more information.
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Talent Night Features Victory Lane Camp Kids
Posted on: Tuesday October 10, 2017
Watch the stars of Victory Lane Camp shine on stage as Victory Lane Camp hosts a fundraising event for the whole family to enjoy on Saturday, November 4, at 7 pm. The night will be filled with talent acts from our very own Victory Kids and will be at the First Baptist Family Life Center (709 S. Memorial Drive, New Castle, IN). Everyone is invited to our cast party to follow. Take your opportunity to congratulate the stars and enjoy some ice cream with them. Admission is free, and limited festival seating is available. Spots can be reserved at www.victorylanecamp.org/stars.php or by calling Tiffanny at 765-591-4191 Featured acts include: Joe Hewitt- Joe is the son of Ryan Hewitt and Amy Smith. Joe attended his first camp session at Cornerstone Campground in 2014. He loves wowing people with magic, and will share a magic act during the VLC Talent Night. Rebecca Johnson- Rebecca is the daughter Kaj and Cyndi Johnson and the family attended camp this past summer. Rebecca has been practicing her hula hoop routine and will share her performance on November 4. AJ Wise is a long-time active member of the VLC community, attending camp for the first time in 2015. AJ and his parents Jimmy and Taby Wise attended the camp session at Bradford Woods this summer, where they each went on the zip line. AJ will sing with his dad during his performance at the Talent Night. Ruby Ingram will also present a song performance. Ruby and her mom Crystal Ingram enjoyed camp at Cornerstone Campground this summer, along with several other VLC Community events. Caden Upchurch is one of the “original Victory Kids,” and is known throughout the community for his smile and sense of humor. He’ll be sharing a comedy act at Talent Night. Caden is the son of David and Dara Upchurch. Alex Carey will present his own brand of comedy. Alex and his parents Greg and Christine attend most all VLC community events and have attended two camp sessions. Throughout the evening, the audience will also hear from other members of the Victory Lane Camp community about the growth of the organization. Victory Lane Camp is centered around families who have children with disabilities, and is more than a camp. Connections between people from all backgrounds and abilities continue throughout the year with planned events and impromptu gatherings. “We want to share how lives are being changed and how our community is growing,” noted Brett Fischer, VLC Founder. “This is a great opportunity to get to know some of the families in our VLC community and learn how to support the future growth of VLC with time and financial resources.” Everyone is invited to the cast party following the program. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the performers and their families. Don’t miss a chance to see the stars of VLC! Reserve your seat now at www.VictoryLaneCamp.org/stars.php.
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Family Inspired To Bring VLC to the Kokomo Area
Posted on: Friday September 22, 2017
What started as an idea formed at a Dad Camp in Kokomo is developing into a reality for the Sipe family and the Kokomo area. Denny Sipe took his daughter, Mylie to Dad Camp. While they were there, enjoying the facility and the experience, Denny had the idea to form a special needs camp at that location. As Denny began sharing his thoughts on forming a special needs camp, he was introduced to [VLC Founder] Brett. Denny explained, “Brett said that was something they were already doing. We started networking August of last year and he encouraged our family to come to Victory Lane Camp.” Denny, Paulette, and their children Mylie and Bracy were able to attend camp at Cornerstone. Their son Bracy has Down Syndrome, and they spent this summer’s camp session as a Victory Family. The whole family enjoyed their time and the friendships and connections they made. One thing that stood out to Denny and Paulette was the amount of support they received while at camp. “Being a family with a child who has special needs, we tend to be kind of guarded a little bit. We were overwhelmed in a good way with love, care, and support. Bracy was in such good hands with the TIMS. We loved watching Mylie play games with the other kids. She made the comment that she wants to come back and be a TIM one day,” Denny shared. Now that the Sipe family has experienced VLC from the Victory Family perspective, they plan to continue their efforts toward starting VLC in their area. Denny shared, “We were overwhelmingly met with a lot of love, support, encouragement, and fun. How can we get this to take place in Kokomo area? Networking, talking, dreaming, envisioning.” Originally, they had hoped to get a camp started next summer. “We first thought about hosting a one-day camp, since there’s not much in this area for families like ours,” Denny explained. “But experiencing VLC showed it as a life-changing experience if you let it be. It’s more than just camp.” The plan is for the Sipe family to come back next year as a serving family. Between now and then, Denny will be attending board meetings, beginning fundraising, and building connections in the Indianapolis area with the hope of starting camp in the Kokomo area in the summer of 2019. The joy of watching their children grow and interact inspires them to continue this effort toward building a new VLC experience in the Kokomo area. Paulette expressed that she saw Bracy, “go farther and be pushed more than he has in a long time. I’m surprised that he’s doing what he’s doing.” Denny shared in that sentiment, “What I did see was my kids connecting more than I thought they might. Rubbing shoulders with these people each day, it felt very much like a family, like a neighborhood. It was a great, great experience.”
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Beyond the Classroom: Student Therapists Learn by Serving
Posted on: Wednesday September 13, 2017
Students can learn about physical, occupational, and speech therapy in the classroom. Rachel Tucker and Adam Manahan wanted to do more than learn from books and lectures. As student therapists, they were looking for a more immersive learning experience, and found ways to put their knowledge into practice while serving with Victory Lane Camp this summer. Rachel began her involvement with Victory Lane Camp as a volunteer with her family. During this experience, she met Victory Kid Luke Miller. “My favorite connection has to be with Luke Miller,” she expressed. “My first camp we made a bond, and I love seeing his smile and hearing his laughter and happiness every second.” This year, Rachel had the opportunity to experience camp for the first time as a student therapist. “I was excited to finally become a graduate student in occupational therapy and actually be able to work alongside therapists and kids with special needs,” shared Rachel. Through her time at camp, she has been able to make connections with other therapists as well as with Serving and Victory Families. She also made a connection with Micah, a Victory Kid. She watched him grow and try new things at Bradford Woods. “This past summer at Bradford Woods, my favorite experience was working with Micah through all of the activities we did together,” she shared. “I loved getting him to climb the cargo nets with me as well as completing all the games during the VLC Olympics.” Adam’s connection with Victory Lane Camp began through his work with 321Go Kids Rehab. Adam spent the summer as a student therapist with 321Go Kids Rehab as part of his clinical while he is attaining his masters in occupational therapy. Serving at camp provided a unique setting for Adam to apply his therapy skills. Adam particularly enjoyed helping with the Upchurch family and continuing his work with Caden. He assisted with several daily activities and nightly routines, but what stood out to him most was seeing first-hand the trials that Victory Families face every day. He explained, “It gave me a better understanding of the family unit, how their routines affect therapy, and how completing therapy can be addressed in a more holistic manner to adapt to the family’s life.” Both Adam and Rachel value their experience at camp. Adam expressed, “Throughout camp, different situations would arise where a child or family was having a difficult time and a creative solution was needed to address this. The therapy team I was privileged to work with displayed incredible professionalism and creativity when thinking of adaptive ways to help make camp the best experience for both Serving and Victory Families. Being able to be a part of this process and witness/learn from those who have more experience in both therapy and VLC made a lasting impression on me as a student wanting to soak in as much as I could.” Rachel would love to see Victory Lane Camp take place in her home state of New Jersey in the future. Rachel expressed her hope further, “I personally know so many people with special needs, and I would love to give them the chance to experience it without having to travel far from home.” More than professional experience, these student therapists are thankful for the growth seen in Victory Kids and families as well as the connections made with the VLC community. Adam shared, “I was able to see so many victories throughout both camps, but the best victory of them all was the community that was created between Victory and Serving Families. A lot of Victory Families have never had this opportunity to take the family camping or out for longer than an afternoon due to fatigue or difficulty with all the circumstances. By having a whole community work together, some Victory Families were able to breathe for the first time knowing everybody was there to serve.”
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Playing Power Rangers and Forming Friendships
Posted on: Friday August 25, 2017
Collin Wente loves Power Rangers. So after the Victory Lane Camp crew welcomed his family to Cornerstone Campground, Konrad Clemens engaged Collin in a conversation about Power Rangers. Konrad was serving at VLC along with the rest of the Clemens family. Questions and conversation quickly evolved into a group of kids playing Power Rangers together. It was a moment that was precious to Collin’s mom, Breezy, who often sees her son struggle with social situations due to his autism. Having been to a camp in Kentucky a few summers ago, the Wentes were glad to find a closer location to make connections. They heard about what Victory Lane Camp had to offer them from their friends, the Careys, who attended camp last summer. Breezy was intrigued by the ongoing community aspect of VLC. “The thing that really got me was the fact that VLC continues relationship afterwards. There are activities throughout the year. That’s what grabbed me,” she shared. It didn’t take long for the Wentes to find connection and community. It was also the first camp experience for their serving family, the Clemens. “I loved being associated with a family, having a specific role, finding fellowship and building community,” expressed Kristina Clemens. Kristina and Scott Clemens found Victory Lane Camp as a great opportunity for their whole family to get involved. They were looking for a way for their kids to practice serving others and hoped to enlarge their boundaries while building relationships with children who have disabilities. New relationships started forming at camp between the Clemens kids— Konrad, Reagan, and Makenzie—and the Wente kids, Dylan and Collin. This friendship continued to develop over the next few days at camp. The families both saw and appreciated how much the kids were enjoying their time together. Breezy appreciated “seeing Collin be able to connect with Konrad and not having to be with him all of the time. It was really neat to see him being able to do stuff with him and connect and have fun.” Breezy shared that both of her sons tend to be “homebodies.” But she watched them step out of their shells and have fun at camp. “In every day, you get stuck in a whirlwind and don’t realize how much they can do on their own, and they don’t even realize it. When you’re put in that type of situation, you are opened up to what could be if you pushed a little more and allowed them to be more independent and responsible for themselves. One thing I noticed with Collin is that he really is socially becoming so much more open.” Both Dylan and Collin expressed that they loved camp and had a good time. Collin especially, “loved the pool and had fun with Konrad,” he said. Throughout their time at camp, both families moved past comfort zones, formed new friendships, and grew in positive experiences... and it all started with a group of Power Rangers.
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‘Rockstar’ Teens Shine and Serve at Camp
Posted on: Monday August 14, 2017
Brooklyn Bowen likes helping people, so when her church youth group planned a missions trip to Victory Lane Camp, she jumped at the opportunity. She’s already hoping to return to serve at a future camp. Brooklyn was one of 24 Teens In Mission (TIMS) serving at Victory Lane Camp during this year’s summer camp sessions. Each Victory Family had at least one assigned TIM who connected with the family and helped in many ways. “Everyone serving at camp thought the TIMs were rockstars,” noted Sierra Anderson, who coordinated the TIMs program as part of an internship with VLC. “Both the Serving Families and Victory Families told me that the TIMs were a huge help, and everyone was proud of them.” This year’s crew of TIMS included a church youth group and teens who were members of a Serving Family or Victory Family. The focus this year was to develop opportunities for teens to serve actively as leaders during camp. “Serving as a TIM requires dedication and boldness, but it is rewarding to learn more about Victory Families and to know that you enabled them to have fun in a new way,” Sierra shared. Several of the TIMs had prior experience working with people who have disabilities. Ethin Thacker’s little sister has autism, and he also helps coach a special needs basketball team. Savannah Webber was inspired to serve by her mom, whose job involves people who have disabilities. Gage Caruthers attended camp as part of a Victory Family, but served another family as a TIM. “It’s nice that the families all come together and make a community,” said Gage. “I’m thinking about a career in therapy, and the insight from therapists is helpful.” Audrey Upchurch also experienced camp first as part of a Victory Family. This year, she served as a TIM for Rebecca and her family. “Serving as a TIM has impacted me by making me have a better attitude about a lot of things,” she expressed. “It has also made me have a better look at what kids and families go through every day.” Jadyn Youngquist was instrumental in launching the TIMs program, and she watched the idea really come into fruition during this camp season. Jadyn is currently in the eighth grade and experienced a very special time at camp this year. “When I first moved here I met Emma, who has cerebral palsy, and we’ve been friends ever since,” Jadyn described. “I’ve been trying to get her family to come to camp, and this year she came!” Jadyn served as Emma’s TIM, along with two other TIMS. Jadyn’s favorite moment was watching Emma arrive at camp and seeing the Victory Lane Camp community welcoming her and her family. “It was cool to see all these people get to know her and love her the way I do, the way her family does,” she shared. Jadyn hopes to see the TIMs program continue to expand. She enjoys seeing the connections that teens make with Victory kids. “It’s important that we educate teens about children who have special needs and help teens come to the realization that these kids deserve all the love we can give.”
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Victory Family Experiences New Friends and New Adventures at Camp
Posted on: Thursday July 27, 2017
Taby Wise was terrified of the zipline at Bradford Woods this summer, but her son AJ was determined to try it. Fearlessly, AJ insisted that his family promise to take turns and all experience the zipline. As he was coming to the close of his adventure, AJ declared that it was “awesome” and quickly asked to go again. The Wise family has been a part of the VLC community for the last couple of years. This was their second time attending camp. “We were looking forward to camp again. AJ loves it because everyone includes him. They adapt the games so he can fit in. They make you feel really comfortable and welcome,” shared Taby. Even though AJ had been to camp before, he found new ways to move out of his comfort zone and really connect at camp. Taby explained, “This year, he was socializing. Some of the kids came to our cabin and played cards. It’s amazing to see him build relationships with other kids.” One of those relationships was with his friend, Simon. AJ said “I really liked hanging out with Simon and doing the zipline. That made me feel happy.” Watching her son stretch his limits and grow in community reminded Taby of how much VLC means to them. “You don’t always get the support you need for your family. It’s really nice to know that they’re there for you, and they’ll pray for you. It’s not just a camp to us, it’s family.”
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A Heart for Serving: Sierra’s Story
Posted on: Thursday July 13, 2017
When Sierra Anderson’s step-brother suffered from limited mobility and other issues following a car accident, it created a hunger in her heart to help others. She started attending Life Pacific College in California with the plan to complete her Bachelor’s in Human Development and Psychology. “I was motivated by my experience caring for my step-brother,” Sierra shared. Working on her degree required Sierra to complete an internship experience to help her apply the skills she is learning in the classroom. She began looking for an opportunity to work with families impacted by special needs and to explore child education. “There’s a great need for care and service to children with special needs and their families,” she described. With her fiancé close by, and a connection through Foursquare pastor Natalie Werking, Sierra found her way to Victory Lane Camp. Sierra spent time at Bradford Woods observing the atmosphere of Victory Lane Camp and incorporating herself into the community. She took time to grow in her understanding of the TIMS, Teens in Mission, program. “My main goals are to become a working member of Victory Lane’s team and to help them execute their camps excellently. I’m planning to help them to develop their Teens in Mission to be functioning in a way that is sustainable for their growth,” she explained. “They have some high goals for how many people they want to be serving, so they plan to really grow their TIMs ministry.” After attending some of the monthly events this spring and experiencing the first camp of the summer, Sierra has already built relationships within the community with hopes to continue forming connections. She expressed, “I have been able to make connections with some of the families at VLC events, and am excited to meet and connect with even more at the next camp this summer.” She has already seen the impact of having teens involved with VLC during the first camp at Bradford Woods this summer. “The most impacting thing was watching the ways the teens stepped up and grew as leaders themselves,” Sierra noted. “They were willing to let their hearts show and that had such a transforming effect on the children, the camp atmosphere, and on me. It reminded me what was so important and beneficial about TIMS and really energized me to step into my role during the next camp session at Cornerstone.”
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Three Amigos Connect at Camp
Posted on: Wednesday June 28, 2017
The Three Amigos or The Three Stooges. Whatever the Victory Lane Camp community calls this group of three guys, they don’t seem to mind. They’re too busy enjoying a wonderful friendship. Delmar Smith, David Upchurch, and Greg Carey all met through Victory Lane Camp. As dads who have children with disabilities, they found they had a lot in common. The three began connecting on a deeper level during last year’s camp session at Cornerstone. But the friendship didn’t end when camp concluded. They visited one another and made a point to be at as many monthly Victory Lane Camp events as possible. “If I know they’re going to be there, it lifts my spirits. They are both great guys, and with both of them also having kids with special needs, they get it,” David Upchurch expressed. “They really understand in a way that others can’t.” Greg is considered the “Mo” of the group, referring to the classic Three Stooges. They refer to Delmar as the MacGyver because he is good at figuring things out, a skill that helped them outmaneuver an escape room during one of their outings. David is known for his outgoing personality and great heart. “When the three of us get together, we revert back to our fun-loving childhood days. I can be myself and let loose,” Delmar shared. “With caring for a child with special needs, there is always something that needs to be done. We can watch over the kids together and be ourselves. We just click.” The trio’s bond was solidified at the Victory Lane Camp session at Bradford Woods in June. The three enjoy talking about life together and aren’t afraid to broach sensitive topics like religion and politics. “It’s cool, because we can just laugh. Laughter is very important,” David said. “We like to goof off and then we can be serious.” At the Victory Lane Camp pool party a few weeks after camp, the three amigos were together again, having a serious discussion about what faith means to them. Minutes later, they were laughing and talking about something silly. “That’s what makes our relationship just fun,” David continued. David, Greg, and Delmar plan to continue getting together throughout the year. Their wives also enjoy one another and make sure VLC events and casual outings are on the schedule. They are even planning to take a vacation together. “We have a lot of shared experiences with our children. All of us have a child on the spectrum, and we have learned quickly that milestones and expectations have completely changed. My other friends may not get it at all,” Greg shared. “It’s almost like family, maybe even better.”
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An Adventure In Giving
Posted on: Friday June 16, 2017
Rosanne Hardwick loves giving back to her community. When she saw there were needs within Victory Lane Camp, she found a way to make a difference. Rosanne’s history with Victory Lane Camp started with her work at Huffman Chiropractic. When VLC Founder Brett Fischer first started his pediatric rehab clinic, it was in the same facility as the chiropractic practice. Several of the first Victory kids started as Brett’s patients. “I got to know some of the kids and their personalities,” Rosanne shared. She also witnessed the organization grow through the years. “It’s unique. I’ve not seen anything else like this in our area. Having the chance to see it start, develop, and grow, I can see that God is blessing the program.” Rosanne bought tickets to attend the George Dennehy concert that VLC hosted last fall and planned to take her family. At first her husband wasn’t planning to attend, but changed his mind and went along with Rosanne and the children. “I wanted to expose them to what Victory Lane Camp was all about, and we were all encouraged by the presentation,” she noted. “My husband has become a wonderful spokesperson for VLC now.” They made a family decision to take one of the giving envelopes that was available after the program to support VLC. When they opened the envelope and discovered the suggested amount was more than was in their budget, they decided to keep the envelope and raise the money for VLC. As an active part of her family’s flag business, Rosanne has connected with other business people through the years. She and her business networking group established a birthday blessings program at a local senior residence center, and they would use candy bars to help raise money for this program. Rosanne decided to launch a candy bar sale to raise money for VLC. “We would take the candy bars to church. Not only would we sell candy bars, but we also started lifting Victory Lane Camp up in prayer,” she said. “My husband would often add to the announcement and promote Victory Lane Camp.” Rosanne raised an initial donation of $100, and soon followed with a $78 donation. This exceeded the suggested amount for the envelope they picked up at the concert. She doesn’t have plans for another fundraising effort right now as she transitions into helping at the flag pole company where her husband works. But she added that she would consider it as the Lord guides her. “As a family, we would love to go to camp as a serving family at some time,” Rosanne noted. “What VLC is about is a lot of heart work. It’s not just to get healthier, but also to meet an emotional and spiritual need… a need for community.”
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Victory Moms Focus on ‘True Beauty’ During Refresh Weekend
Posted on: Friday May 26, 2017
It started with tacos and quickly became about "True Beauty." This year's Moms Refresh weekend for Victory Moms included eight moms, three who were attending for the first time. Victory Lane Camp started the Mom's Refresh weekend four years ago, and Paige Fischer serves as the primary coordinator for the annual event. "It's intended to be a time of renewal and connection for Victory Moms," Paige shared. "This year we brought in Carmen Cash to share a word of encouragement for the moms, and I believe it was well received.” Other great activities in the weekend included a painting party led by Michelle Preble, a video series by Lisa Chan, a time of worship, and a delicious brunch provided by Tiffanny Youngquist and Nancy McCullers Victory Mom Natasha Hamilton has been able to attend Mom’s Refresh every year. One of her favorite memories from the weekend is playing cards with everyone. “This year we had a four square competition. We get competitive,” Natasha shared. More than the competitive games, Natasha enjoys relating to other Victory Moms over their kids and families and makes strong connections by the end of the weekend. One of the first-time attenders this year was Jenn Fischer. Jen also appreciated the connections made and felt the impact it had on her. “Part of the theme was ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ It was nice to center around that topic. We got 30 minutes to be still and be with God. It was nice to have that down time to do that,” Jenn expressed. She also enjoyed hanging out with the other moms and, “hearing ways that God has worked in their life or hearing struggles that they have are similar to struggles that other women have had.” Jenn shared with the other moms about an experience she had with her son who was having temper tantrums. “We were at our wits end. We went to a therapist who told us that it needed time to work itself out. We didn’t really pray about it. I thought, ‘why am I not giving this over to God?’ So, I prayed about it,” she shared. “Shortly after the prayer, we went a whole week without a tantrum. We even caught him regulating himself. It all kind of stemmed from me asking God for help with this. I told the group how prayer really does change hearts.” Natasha also sees how Mom’s Refresh helps her to reset, “Every year it's a great weekend. I look forward to it. We always laugh, cry, and make lots of memories with each other. When I leave on Sunday I honestly learn more and more about my relationship with God, my kids, husband. It truly is a refresher.” The Mom's Refresh weekend continues to grow as more Victory Families join the VLC community. For the past four years, the weekend was graciously hosted at Brenda Miller’s home. The growth for Mom’s Refresh means a new location for the May 2018 weekend. New opportunities will be announced during this year’s camping season.
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Posted on: Tuesday May 9, 2017
The Victory Lane Camp community is full of families who understand the value of connection, friendship, and service. Moms are central in these family units, and it is often moms who make the initial decision to become part of Victory Lane Camp. This month, we celebrate all of the moms involved with VLC by highlighting a few of our favorite mom stories. Mom’s Leap of Faith Sparks Connections Cindy Cook notices people staring at her son Aaron when they go out in public. At Victory Lane Camp, however, Aaron is part of the community. He has friends who include him and engage with him, and Cindy has become active in camp programming. “It takes a big leap of faith, and it’s really hard for a parent to let their child go to a camp if they have special needs and are non-verbal,” she shared. “I didn’t want my kid going to a camp that I wasn’t involved in. Victory Lane Camp is for the whole family. It’s not just for the kids.” Cindy’s story: http://victorylanecamp.org/mom-connects-with-community/ Mom Brings Family to Volunteer Zonda Ketcham understands the impact of volunteering with her family. She serves alongside her family each summer as they teach disability awareness. She’s seen how this service has made a difference in the lives of her children. “Their world is much bigger than they realized and it is made up of many wonderfully different people. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses,” Zonda expressed. “Each of us is special in God’s eyes. He loves us very much, and we should love one another as He loves us.” Zonda’s story: http://victorylanecamp.org/family-volunteering-leads-to-community-impact/ Finding Hope and Chasing Smiles: One Mom’s Journey Taby Wise wasn’t sure how her son AJ would do at his first session of Victory Lane Camp. AJ has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and had become accustomed to saying, “I can’t” when it came to many things. When Taby brought AJ to camp, she saw that change. He quickly gained a new understanding of what he was capable of doing. Taby also worked with Victory Lane Camp donors and other generous givers to secure a mobility vehicle so that her son would not be homebound. “When I asked AJ what he thought about getting this new van, he said ‘Mommy, I’m so glad that it won’t hurt you getting me in and out of the van anymore,’” Taby Wise shared. “I am so very grateful to everyone that has been involved with making this happen.” Taby’s story: http://victorylanecamp.org/chasing-smiles/ Busy Moms Find Friendship Through VLC Sarah Urwin and Dara Upchurch are both moms with busy lives and a deep love for their families. It this love drew them both to the Victory Lane Camp community and led to a meaningful friendship. “When our busy schedules allow, Dara and I have been able to go out together as friends just to relax, encourage, and edify,” Sarah shared. “I am very thankful for her friendship.” This friendship has been a blessing to Dara as well. “Being the parent of a special needs child doesn't have to be a scary, lonely world,” she said. “There are people out there going through this, or ones who truly want to help.” Sarah and Dara’s story: http://victorylanecamp.org/building-friendships/ Twice a month you can find stories about the Victory Lane Camp community. Find these mom stories and many more at www.victorylanecamp.org/blog.
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‘We just pray:’ Group Provides Prayer Support for Victory Lane Camp
Posted on: Wednesday April 26, 2017
Victory Lane Camp receives support in several ways. Volunteering time, resources, and goods are some obvious avenues of support. Another form of support is found in prayer. Joanne Passanisi has been a part of the VLC community through prayer since it’s early brainstorming days. Joanne felt the call to bring neighborhood women together through prayer, Bible study and doing life together. “Our neighborhood Bible study consists of a small but mighty group of women, all of us coming from very different backgrounds and life experiences. We are a motley crew and it's unlikely our paths would have crossed outside of this study. Various life events drew us together,” she described. One of those women drawn into the Bible Study was Noell Mosca, the mother of Paige Fischer. When Brett and Paige began the dreaming process of VLC, Noell told the group about it. They began to pray. “While VLC was still an idea we began praying that the Lord would open doors, making connections that would ultimately guide and direct the path and vision for VLC.” Joanne continued, “We prayed that God would bring families to the camps, that He would bring volunteers to work the camps, for facilities to host the camps and for wisdom to deal with the many challenges associated with a ministry like VLC.” The Bloomington, IN, Bible study has seen VLC begin and continue to grow over the years. They have witnessed many answers to their weekly prayers. Joanne recalls specifically, “We prayed for the provision of facilities to hold the camps, and He provided trailers at a campsite and then Bradford Woods who were totally onboard with the philosophy behind VLC which ministers to the whole family.” The group has prayed for health needs within the Victory Lane Camp community, sending cards and helping in other ways. This year, the group diligently prayed for Victory families to sign up. God answered this prayer, and now both summer sessions are full. The Bible study plans to keep VLC on their permanent prayer list. Joan expressed, “We are always praying for guidance and direction and for the VLC families as well a as the families who volunteer and work the camp. We pray for lives to be touched, transformed, and changed by the love of Christ displayed through the camp staff. That the VLC families would also feel encouraged and supported and no longer alone. We pray for energy and health of the staff and volunteers. And we just pray.” Are you part of a group who would like to partner with VLC in prayer? Contact Tiffanny at 765-591-4191 or send an e-mail to tiffanny@VictoryLaneCamp.org.
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Events Pit Crew Builds Community with Monthly Events
Posted on: Thursday April 13, 2017
Throughout the past year, Victory Lane Camp offered 12 events which led to laughter, memories, and connections. The team of volunteers working behind the scenes to produce these events is the Events Planning Pit Crew. The crew is comprised of Laura Anderson, Sarah Urwin, Stephania Houchins, Stephanie Winn, and Dara Upchurch. Each member contributes unique ideas and hard work to put together events like the Wheels Party, Pool Party, Family Movies, Chili Cook Off, and more. “It’s our goal to facilitate intentional community and fun outings that anyone can be a part of and enjoy,” Stephanie Winn expressed. She began her involvement with VLC through attending camp as a speech therapist. She enjoys getting to know the other pit crew members and brainstorming ways to engage families in events throughout the year. “It has helped me to think through the ways in which daily activities or get-togethers are not accessible to people of different abilities and ways in which we can make activities accessible to anyone,” she added. As a Victory Mom, Dara Upchurch likes to help plan and execute activities with the Events Planning Pit Crew. She enjoys seeing families connect and create deeper relationships. “It's easy to get wrapped up in ourselves, and attending these events allows me to connect with others and hear their stories,” Dara shared. Victory Lane Camp was just in the dreaming and planning stages when Sarah Urwin started getting involved. Although she no longer serves on the Events Planning Pit Crew, she still participates in brainstorming ideas at the meetings. She experienced the blessing of volunteering and invites others to join the crew to share in the blessings. It’s her vision to see each team member leading one or two events each year. “I look forward to seeing more families impacted by this ministry through volunteering and becoming Victory Families over the coming years,” Sarah noted. Victory Lane Camp is made up of many moving and growing parts. The Events Planning Pit Crew is an essential team of volunteers, and their efforts lead to deeper relationships and a community atmosphere. If you are looking for a way to become involved in VLC, consider joining the Events Planning Pit Crew and contact Tiffanny at 765-591-4191 for more information.
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‘Small Connections and Special Moments’ Attract Therapist to Serving at Victory Lane Camp
Posted on: Friday March 24, 2017
As an occupational therapist with 321Go Kids Rehab, Dusti Dobbs loves spending time connecting with her patients and providing innovative therapies. Only seeing kids during appointments has its limitations, however, and there are only so many variations in activities she can provide in a traditional therapy setting. Serving as a therapist at Victory Lane Camp provides Dusti with the opportunity to use creativity while practicing therapy during camp sessions. Over the past three years, Dusti has assisted at camp sessions in a variety of roles, and her heart is to build a foundation for Victory Kids to learn and grow. “It’s every therapist’s dream to be able to integrate therapy strategies outside the walls of a clinic. In the camp setting, we are hands-on in a community and in a fun setting,” Dusti noted. “We’re able to show families ways to make therapy work into their daily life schedule. We aim to adapt activities to make life work in a therapeutic way.” In her first year at camp, Dusti reconnected with a high school friend who is the caregiver for her nephew. Throughout camp, their friendship blossomed and they built a relationship of trust. Dusti became a respite caretaker and continued her involvement in the family’s life. “We watch each other's children,” she shared. “I have assisted in helping her with therapy strategies for her nephew and just being a constant in their lives serving and receiving special gifts that both of them bring to our lives.” Dusti expanded her therapy role in camp the following year and helped train the therapists as coaches for the families and the VLC community. She taught therapists how to integrate therapy strategies within the real world of camp. During this camp, she met and became involved with the Miller family and developed a bond with Luke Miller. I was able to introduce them to the therapeutic listening program. Luke became a favorite of my daughter’s, and finding ways to interact with Luke and make him smile was a huge part of her week,” she explained. During the most recent camp session, Dusti had the opportunity to serve as a family crew chief. While she found this challenging, she used therapy strategies to break down the walls of a Victory Kid and make a lasting connection with him and his family. They now connect outside of the clinic and spend time together at places like Sky Zone. The Victory Kid continues coming to 321Go Kids Rehab for services, and Dusti has an ongoing friendship with his mom. Dusti sums up her experiences in stating, “small connections and special moments happen all throughout the week. It’s truly about finding ways to connect with these kids and families in order to enrich their lives in simple ways.” Do you know a therapist who would be interested in an opportunity to serve at camp? This year’s camp sessions are only five days long and include a weekend. Please contact Tiffanny at 765-591-4191 for more information.
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Making Smiles Possible
Posted on: Wednesday March 1, 2017
It’s not easy being a parent with a child who has special needs. In addition to energy spent in typical family life, there are doctor visits, therapy appointments, time off of work, and insurance negotiations. The expenses can quickly add up, making it difficult to add “extras” into the family budget. Victory Lane Camp realizes that while all families can benefit from a camp experience, affording it may be another matter. Victory Lane Camp wants to ensure that all families can go to camp. VLC automatically pays half of the costs associated with a family attending a camp session. Camp costs cover lodging, food, training sessions, and activities that combine therapy with fun and education. On-staff medical and therapy personnel ensure that each child’s needs are met. Serving families come alongside each Victory family to help with daily tasks, errands, and just to enjoy camp together. We ask each family to contribute a small amount toward camp costs and then help with fundraising the remaining amount. These fundraising efforts support the Family Scholarship Fund, which was established to help families of children with special needs afford camp. Your small investment will result in one of the most memorable weeks for your family. Here is what some of our families are saying about their camp experiences: “We felt like everyone was there to support us and help us understand how to help our child.” -Natasha “Unless you experience it, you just don’t know. This was well worth it.” -Todd “When I take my son out in public, people stare at him because he’s different. At Victory Lane Camp, I’m watching my son in a pool laughing and playing, and people are playing with him and engaging with him.” -Cindy Learn more about what camp can mean for your family by connecting with our team. www.VictoryLaneCamp.org/start
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Finding Restoration and Refuge: The Upchurch’s Journey
Posted on: Thursday February 23, 2017
Dara and David Upchurch are a blended family of eight. Noah is on the autism spectrum, and Caden was born with spina bifida. Through Victory Lane Camp (VLC), the Upchurch family connected with a community of people on similar roads in life, coming together to support one another. They discovered refuge, restoration, and hope. Life before Victory Lane Camp is now a distant memory to Dara Upchurch. She described, “It's hard to remember life before VLC. It was lonely. Life before VLC was very rocky. Our family was torn. David and I were on the brink of a divorce.” Through the help of family crew chief Sarah Urwin, support of Paige Fischer, and a connection made with Jerry Ingalls, the Upchurch family found restoration at Victory Lane Camp. The journey wasn’t easy for the Upchurch family. “It was challenging to begin with. And a little scary. Because you’re pushed to get out of your own little bubble and where you feel safe. We were pushed out of our comfort zones. The more you’re in it, and the more you commit, the easier it gets. The journey is getting more exciting and easier,” Dara expressed. Through these experiences and adventures, each member of the family has made a personal connection with VLC. David enjoys the fellowship and positive relationships built with other families in similar situations. Noah’s favorite part is making new friends while Hunter’s is being able to help other kids. Caden loves having play dates and Audrey likes the relationships made with others and feeling like she’s a part of another big family. Austin appreciates seeing people accomplish things they’ve never done before, and to Isaac, Victory Lane Camp means happiness. After seeing the impact VLC has had on their family, the Upchurches continue to use their story, hope, and passion to help other families connect with VLC. Dara takes time to connect to other families and pull them in to new experiences. “I’m very passionate. That comes through to people, and I just tell them all about the exciting things that happen,” she explained. “I think because we are so involved and find it so exciting and fun, it brings other people on board. They want to be a part of it.” The Upchurch family came to Victory Lane Camp in need of refuge. There, they found it and more. As they continue to grow and learn with the VLC family, they are ready for the next step. Dara expressed, “We’re up for more of the challenges and ready to reach out to other families because we believe in VLC, and we know that VLC’s purpose is greater than us, and we want to be a part of that.” Find out how you can become part of Victory Lane Camp: www.VictoryLaneCamp.org/start
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Camp Is ‘A Big Family Reunion’
Posted on: Wednesday February 8, 2017
Jordan McIntire loves watching families smile and laugh together. It’s one of her favorite aspects of her job as the assistant director of military and family programming at Bradford Woods, Indiana University’s outdoor center. Jordan started as a seasonal worker at Bradford Woods and loved it so much that she stayed on in a part-time role and then transitioned into her current position. “I enjoy providing programming that allows people to have fun, and in that fun experience growth and therapeutic effects,” Jordan shared. “With traditional therapy, people know they are going to be asked to be uncomfortable. Here they are laughing, having fun, creating memories… and it’s also therapeutic. We call it the magic of the woods.” Jordan works closely with Victory Lane Camp assistant director Tiffanny Youngquist to plan camp sessions for the Victory Lane Camp community. Jordan is the primary contact for VLC at Bradford Woods and is an integral part of all activities. “Tiffanny and I work very hard so that when families come here, they know what’s going on. We understand issues like food allergies and transporting and we work it out in advance,” Jordan said. “Everything is taken care of for you. You don’t have to worry about anything. It’s great being around people with intentionality, and it’s also just fun.” The staff at Bradford Woods focuses on empathy, engagement, and empowerment. This philosophy is close to Jordan’s heart. “These kids can do anything they put their mind to. Allowing them the opportunity to climb the Alpine Tower, go zip lining or ride a horse is just a catalyst for other milestones they can and will accomplish later in life -- and what an honor it is to be a part of their journey,” she said. Jordan especially appreciates the way Victory Lane Camp included her each camp session. Her favorite memory at last summer’s camp session was when she and Tiffanny abandoned their beach day schedule because everyone was having fun. Jordan spent hours giving pontoon boat rides and making waves for everyone in the swimming area. “The thing about Victory Lane Camp is that when everyone was together, it resembled a big family reunion,” she noted. “I feel like I’m a part of Victory Lane Camp, too.” Jordan has enjoyed seeing families after camp at activities like the Timmy Takedown wrestling event. As she was entering one of these activities, she heard her name shouted and turned to find the Upchurch family. “Every time I see people from the Victory Lane Camp community, they are so happy to see me. They are always smiling, and they genuinely care,” she shared. “If I had a child with a disability, I would total trust them with my kid. The staff is genuine, hardworking, and trustworthy. I can’t wait to see everyone this summer!”
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Mom Connects With ‘A Community That Understands’
Posted on: Wednesday January 25, 2017
When Cindy Cook takes her son Aaron out in public, she can’t help but notice the stares. “People stare at him because he’s different,” Cindy said. That’s not the case when they are involved at Victory Lane Camp. “At Victory Lane Camp, I’m watching my son in a pool laughing and playing, and people are playing with him and engaging with him.” Cindy and Aaron became part of the Victory Lane Camp community during the first year after a friend recommended it to Cindy. Her older children were grown and it was just Cindy and Aaron at home. After she saw the connections, she became increasingly involved. Cindy now serves on a pit crew and volunteers every summer. They have been a Victory family and a serving family, and Cindy attends all of the women’s retreats. “It’s the only community or group of people that I’ve ever been involved with that understand. They just get it—what it’s like to be a parent of a special needs kid,” Cindy expressed. “They get to know the kids and learn who Aaron is. They want to get to know Aaron.” A few years ago, Aaron hit a memorable milestone when he sat and watched people instructing the dancing during the hoedown at camp. He then did the entire dance with his therapist. The VLC community embraces Aaron’s pace. The next day he wanted to be a pirate, “And it was okay!” Cindy exclaimed. Cindy has watched camp impact not just her son, but other children as well. “Kids who are ‘normal’ can be impacted by working with special needs families,” Cindy noted. She hopes to build in more help for siblings of special needs kids in the summer ahead. She encourages all families to try a summer camp session. “It takes a big leap of faith, and it’s really hard for a parent to let their child go to a camp if they have special needs and are non-verbal,” she shared. “I didn’t want my kid going to a camp that I wasn’t involved in. Victory Lane Camp is for the whole family. It’s not just for the kids.” Find out about how your family can go to camp: www.victorylanecamp.org/start
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Teen Shares Talent and Friendship Through VLC
Posted on: Thursday January 12, 2017
The dream, vision, and drive to start Victory Lane Camp was a leap of faith for the entire Fischer family. Samuel Fischer was just a small child when his parents founded Victory Lane Camp but he is now experiencing new opportunities and personal impact from his involvement with VLC. Samuel’s interest in taking photos and videos led him to become further involved with VLC. What began as making highlight reels of the footage he had taken at camp turned into a continuing job. “It’s a lot of work but so much fun and totally worth it.” Samuel continued, “God has given me a gift with media and photography/videography, and I hope to go to school for it one day. This exercises my talent and gives me a chance to love on families with special needs in a close and personal way.” Samuel has taken the opportunity to love on families and used it make close connections and friendships with families at camp. Some of his favorite camp memories include his friendship with Caden Upchurch. Samuel remembers helping Caden learn how to shoot a bow and arrow, going swimming together, and making sandcastles at the lake. Samuel also formed a friendship with Josiah Hamilton through camp. They both enjoyed hanging out with each other at camp. Samuel shared, “The great thing about VLC is that relationships don’t end at camp. I see Caden and Josiah often in town and at VLC events. It’s just awesome how camp can not only start, but continue relationships.” The need for VLC is an aspect that is close to Samuel’s heart. “I see how big of a need ministering to these families is, not just in Henry County, but how everywhere needs it. I hope to one day see it grow exponentially and impact so many other families.”
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Day Job Leads to New Passion
Posted on: Thursday December 22, 2016
Sarah Mackey didn’t recognize her passion for children with special needs until she “fell into it.” She grew up around the special needs community because of her mother’s career in education. “I’ve heard about special needs my whole life, but wasn’t necessarily involved until I was older,” she explained. Sarah attends church with Brett and Paige Fisher, Victory Lane Camp founders, and has known about Victory Lane Camp since the beginning. When she started working at 321Go Kids’ Rehab, she found herself working closely with many Victory Families. She started helping behind the scenes with Brett and Tiffanny, including providing structured activities for kids while parents were in training. This year, Sarah had the opportunity to become further involved with VLC by attending a summer camp session at Cornerstone Campground. One highlight for Sarah was simply spending time with the kids. “I like being around the kids. I love hanging out with them. I’m not the one that’s going to be leading them in a game. I just like hanging out and getting to know them. Celebrating along with them,” she expressed. Another special moment Sarah remembers is watching the Victory Families arrive at camp. “We all had signs to welcome the families and were jumping up and down. I loved seeing the families respond differently to that and being caught up in the energy of the moment.” Sarah continues to grow in her VLC connections throughout the year by seeing families from the community in therapy appointments, helping with babysitting, and VLC events. She also hopes to use her position at 321Go Kids’ Rehab to encourage families to attend camp. “There are several families that I would love to see come to camp this year. I am fortunate that it is a big part of my job to build relationships with the families that come to 321. That is a natural part of it,” Sarah shared. “I hope to see some of them at VLC this summer because it is a totally different atmosphere that creates a lot of great opportunities to get to know people on a deeper level, all while having fun!”
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Company Brings Energy To Victory Families
Posted on: Tuesday December 6, 2016
Henry County REMC provides safe and reliable electrical service to its members, but it was the energy they bring to families who have children with disabilities that earned them the 2016 Victory Award from Victory Lane Camp. VLC Founder Brett Fischer presented the award to Henry County REMC staff members Anita Ervin and Haley Teague at an appreciation program in November. Henry County REMC’s connection with Victory Lane Camp started in 2014 when VLC received an Operation Roundup Grant. The Operation Roundup program allows Henry County REMC customers the opportunity to round their bill to the next highest dollar and the change goes into a community fund. “A team of five of our customers/members serve on a board that decides where the funds go,” noted Lara Sullivan, Manager of Marketing and Communications for Henry County REMC. “We try to help anybody we can and try to spread it throughout our service territory. VLC is such an awesome program that reaches so many, continuously.” Henry County REMC also invites Victory Lane Camp to participate in its annual Co-op Community Day. In 2015 REMC selected VLC to receive most of the donated proceeds from the event. “Victory Lane Camp was one of the first we have helped through Co-Op Community Day. We will always invite them back to have a booth for free and represent their organization,” Sullivan shared. “I look forward to VLC getting with us each year. Tiffanny does a wonderful job of communicating with us and letting us know what’s going on.” Support from organizations like Henry County REMC makes Victory Lane Camp possible. These partners make a difference in the lives of families who have been impacted by disabilities. “As we mentioned at the appreciation program, REMC is one of the keys that opens the door for Victory Lane Camp to walk through and serve families,” expressed Tiffanny Youngquist, Assistant Director for VLC. “We’re thankful for their encouragement and support.”
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Posted on: Monday November 28, 2016
Throughout the past year, Victory Lane Camp has experienced several smile-maker moments. Here’s a sampling of these stories: 1. Mason’s Family Continues Connections Mason Griffin and his parents connected with Victory Lane Camp four years ago, but didn’t attend camp until this past summer. The highlight of camp for Mason was spending time with Ken and Liz Ritchie, who were serving as a Backyard Mission Trip Family. Mason’s stepdad Todd expressed, “He loved Ken and Liz to death and still talks about Ken.” Even while at camp, when they were separated, Mason would ask, “Where’s my friend?” Todd appreciated the comfort in new connections made at camp. “We were just relaxing together... A bunch of us going through the same thing, realizing we all live around the corner from each other. Unless you experience it, you just don’t know.” 2. Donors Make Refresh Weekend Possible for Victory Mom In 14 years, Taby Wise had never spent even one night away from her son, AJ. That is until she attended the Mom’s Refresh weekend with VLC. At first, Taby thought it would be better for her financially to work that weekend. She and Paige Fischer prayed over the situation together and decided that Taby should apply for a High Five Crew grant. Through the help of the High Five Crew, Taby was able to attend. “It really lifted up my spirits to know that with so much moral support, I can handle anything.” 3. The Careys Go to Camp Christine Carey didn’t think summer camp was something that would be possible for her son, Alex, but during their time at camp, Christine felt overwhelmed by the love and support of strangers. Strangers, she describes, “who are becoming family.” Alex summed up his feelings about the week in his testimony on the last night, “This time of year has been the best time of my life. The best thing has been everything. Also, the pool.” 4. Creating Smiles Through Song And Capturing Smiles Through Photography Mike and Ashley Brown consistently give of their time and talents to help create smiles for VLC. Mike Brown has a gift for music. Ashley Brown has an eye for photography. Together, this couple has a heart for Victory Lane Camp. It began with Ashley visiting camp as the photographer three years ago. It continues as their whole family is now fully invested in the VLC community. One of Mike’s favorite moments at camp was watching Victory Kid Claire react to the music. “You could tell she was enjoying it and connecting to it. It helps you understand that the power of music can connect with all people no matter how they can communicate.” Your generosity makes stories like this possible. Partner with Victory Lane Camp and become a smile-maker! Learn more here: https://todahgive.com/fundraiser/505
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7 Thankful Thoughts From Victory Lane Camp
Posted on: Friday November 18, 2016
November is the time of year when hearts turn toward thankfulness. It’s the perfect time to show gratitude for the many people who help make Victory Lane Camp the great community it is. Here is our Thanksgiving list: 1. Victory Kids Can you even imagine Victory Lane Camp without Victory Kids? Every differently-abled kid that has attended an event or participated in camp has demonstrated the meaning of unconditional love, joy, and hope. From Aaron’s version of Baby Shark to the smile on AJ’s face when he rode in his new van for the first time, these moments won’t soon be forgotten. We are grateful for the opportunity to know, serve, and love each Victory Kid that is a part of VLC. 2. Victory Families When Victory Families choose to share their lives with VLC, they show the beauty of vulnerability and shine light on the need for community. By allowing the VLC community to come alongside them in their journeys, they have taught us all how to relate and care for families of all ages and abilities. This year, several Victory Families returned to camp as Mission Trip Families to serve others. We are thankful to be included in the lives of each Victory Family. 3. Mission Trip Families Backyard Mission Trip Families give of their time and energy to help ensure each Victory Kid and Victory Family has the experience of a lifetime while at camp. They continue that role during the year through monthly events and continued relationship-building. These families made it possible to offer a “Night Out” for Victory Parents and many were also involved in the George Dennehy concert. We are grateful for their willingness to give of themselves to build the Victory Lane Camp community. 4. Pit Crew Members None of our events or camps would be the same without the hard work of each Pit Crew member. Volunteering year-round, VLC Pit Crews plan and prepare to provide a quality experience for each person that comes to VLC. The Camp Programming Pit Crew, for example, aims to make all families feel welcome at camp and works with therapists to create customized activities for campers and their families. We are thankful for their hard work and determination. 5. Corporate Sponsors Our corporate sponsors make it possible for VLC to continue to serve. These companies include Superior Van And Mobility, Midwest Orthotic And Technology Center, Huffman Family Chiropractic, Bethany Cares Home Health Agency, Henry County REMC, Reid Health Community Benefit, NUmotion, 321Go Kids’ Rehab, and Just Mulch, Inc. We are grateful to each one of these businesses for choosing to partner with us. 6. Donors Our donors make a difference through VLC by deciding to give of their finances. Victory Lane Camp would not be possible without the funding provided by our individual and church-based donors. We are thankful for each person and congregation and their contributions to the VLC community over the years. 7. YOU! Finally, thank you to our readers and social media supporters. You help spread the word of VLC and help us reach more people who can become part of the Victory Lane Camp community. Continue inviting your friends and neighbors to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. We are grateful for the opportunity to help families of all ages and abilities connect and support one another. Thank you to everyone who has helped VLC grow and thrive. Have a blessed time of remembrance and thanksgiving this holiday season.
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Sharing Blessings With The Next Generation
Posted on: Tuesday November 8, 2016
Jennie Brewster loves her grandchildren, the outdoors, and Victory Lane Camp. This summer, she combined all three loves while serving as a Backyard Missionary alongside her granddaughters Kaitlyn and Addy. While being neighbors and friends with Brett and Paige Fischer, Jennie has been a part of the VLC picture from the beginning. After hearing Brett’s heart and vision through several discussions and meetings, Jennie was on board immediately. Jennie serves as the Victory Lane Camp treasurer, helping with budgets, bill-paying, and fundraising. While she does appreciate the opportunity to help in this area, the highlight of her VLC experience came at this summer’s camp hosted at Cornerstone Campground. Her granddaughters encouraged and inspired her to take on this challenge. “They actually were the reason that I ended up pushing to volunteer. Both of them wanted to help. They had been following VLC and the social media and wanted to participate,” Jennie explained. The two girls fit right in with what was happening at camp, and helped in a variety of ways. Kaitlyn especially enjoyed the carnival and interacting with other teens while Addy valued the time spent working with kids and playing games. Jennie appreciated seeing the inner workings of camp. “I like the socializing and picking each other’s brains. Everyone has such great ideas on how to make all of this happen,” she described. “Brett has a good group of people that he’s assembled to make this function.” Jennie also found camp to be a great learning experience. She encourages others to take part in what happens at camp. “I’ve talked to several people about it. Time seems to be a factor for most people. They feel like they never have enough time to do volunteer work,” Jennie shared. “You will reap a lot of benefits from it. Each person takes away something very beneficial when they will volunteer and donate their time and money. We are blessed from doing both.”
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George Dennehy: On A Mission to Impact and Inspire
Posted on: Tuesday October 18, 2016
George Dennehy travels the world sharing music and stories with countless audiences, but it’s more than just entertainment that he shares. It’s inspiration. “It’s not about being an entertainer,” he expressed. “It’s about being a difference maker.” George sings and plays the piano and guitar, but his remarkable talent is made more impressive because George was born with no arms. He uses his feet to play the guitar and piano. He encourages audiences to chase their dreams and recognize that anything is possible. He’s bringing this message of hope to New Castle, Indiana, on Saturday, November 5, as part of a benefit concert for Victory Lane Camp. “A Night of Inspiration” begins at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of New Castle, 709 S. Memorial Drive in New Castle. George was born in Romania and had a brush with death in a Romanian orphanage before he was adopted by his family at the age of one. He started his musical journey by learning to play the cello at the age of eight, advancing in classical music until he was able to perform with regional orchestras. He taught himself guitar, electric bass, and basic piano. “After every event that I do, I get off the stage to meet everyone and they share openly. It’s very meaningful to me,” George shared. “The best part is developing new friendships and hearing people’s stories.” George is looking forward to connecting with new friends during his visit on November 5. He wants to share with others the light and hope he has found and help them realize their own goals are within reach. “It’s all about inspiring and impacting anyone who may need to be impacted,” he shared. “Even if there’s just one person who needs to hear what I have to say, then the whole trip is worth it.” The upcoming months are filling up fast for George and his wife, Stephanie. She just opened up a photography studio and he is booked through spring of 2017. He’s also starting to plan his second CD recording. “I want to share the truth that anything is possible. Just because someone may be different doesn’t mean they are any less capable to make a difference in the world.” Learn more about George and order discounted advance tickets at VictoryLaneCamp.org/George.
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Three Cheers for these Game-Changers: The Camp Programming Pit Crew
Posted on: Friday September 30, 2016
When Julie Carter and her son, Jessie, drove in to Cornerstone Campground this past summer for their first Victory Lane Camp experience, they were not expecting the big welcome they received. “Look, they’re cheering for us!” Jessie exclaimed as they began their week with an uplifting and memorable moment. This “VIP reception” at the start of camp is just one of the countless aspects the Camp Programming Pit Crew coordinates. Beginning nearly a year in advance, this crew plans virtually everything that happens at camp: scheduling with meal missionaries, planning and leading activities for the week, finding RVs and places for families to sleep, registration, disability awareness, and even training Backyard Mission Trip families. This group of volunteers give their time and energy to help make camp a memorable experience for everyone. The 2016 crew includes Natasha Hamilton, Tiffanny Youngquist, Paige Fischer, Dusti Dobbs, Zonda Ketchum, Dara Upchurch, and Cindy Cook. Victory Lane Camp CEO Brett Fischer describes them as, “a group of caring adults that care about families with children with disabilities and want to make the community a better place.” He went on to share, “Victory Lane Camp is working and succeeding in ministering to new families because of their sacrifices.” The Camp Programming Pit Crew is especially skilled in adapting. They begin with a skeleton of a plan for their vision of the time at camp. Once the information for the campers comes in, they get creative and work with therapists to customize plans to fit the needs of the specific families involved. This past summer, both camps happened during extremely hot weeks. Sensory issues are amplified for most children who have disabilities, which makes the summer heat something that could hold them back from having a good time. The Camp Programming Pit Crew adapted the many of the activities, changing them into water games or moving activities into air conditioned areas. For example, a family kickball game transitioned to include small pools for bases and sprinklers so that everyone could play while staying cool. Jessie Carter claimed his spot on one of the bases and was able to be engaged in the game instead of being bothered by the heat. Quite literally, this pit crew is made up of game-changers. From the very first welcome cheers until the last camper leaves, they are impacting the lives of families connected with Victory Lane Camp. The Camp Programming Pit Crew is just one of many pit crews that are building the Victory Lane Camp community not just at camp, but throughout the year. Find out how you can be part of this team of game-changers by sending an e-mail to victory@VictoryLaneCamp.org.
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Warm Welcome Is Just the Beginning for Victory Family
Posted on: Monday September 12, 2016
Mason Griffin and his parents have been connected with Victory Lane Camp for the last four years. This year was the first opportunity for them to attend camp. Despite family illness, they were able to make it to the second session of summer camp for the experience of a lifetime. “All the way up to the end we didn’t know if we were going to make it to camp because my wife is sick. We didn’t know until about two days before,” Todd Thibault, Mason’s stepfather, explained. Fortunately, Todd, his wife, Brandi, and their son, Mason were able to come to camp. The surprises for them began as soon as they drove in. One of Todd’s highlights from camp was the welcome as they drove in on the first day. “Initially, I thought we were going to show up and go to a spot and sign up, and didn’t know what to expect. I sure wasn’t expecting the reception we got.” The biggest highlight that Todd shared was watching Mason have fun and seeing his connection with their Backyard Mission Trip Family, Ken and Liz Ritchie. The Ritchies became connected with VLC through 321Go Kids’ Rehab and founder Brett Fischer. This was their second year helping at camp. They both value their camp experiences and the relationships built with other families. Ken shared, “It is a great opportunity to really reconnect with the Lord and serve others. Being able to help care for the VLC kids and to give the families some much needed rest really shows the families that there are people out there who care and want to help.” Ken and Mason formed an instant friendship. Ken described, “Mason was such a happy little guy with a great loving personality. Liz and I connected with him right away. My favorite times at camp were swimming with Mason. He loved getting out of his wheelchair and getting in the water.” Mason had a similar fondness for Ken. Todd expressed, “He loved Ken and Liz to death and still talks about Ken.” Even while at camp, when they were separated, Mason would ask, “Where’s my friend?” Mason and Ken weren’t the only ones to take something special away from camp this summer. Todd spoke about the comfort in the new connections made. “We were just relaxing together... A bunch of us going through the same thing, realizing we all live around the corner from each other.” He went on to say, “Unless you experience it, you just don’t know. This was well worth it. I wish we had gone in 2015.” Even beyond his personal experience at camp, Todd sees the need and benefit of the Backyard Mission Trip Families. He shared, “When things get better, I would love to come back and be involved on the other side of things.” Despite illness and difficulties of life, Todd, Brandi, and Mason made it to camp and will carry their time with them as they continue on, with the hope that one day they can help brighten another family’s camp experience.
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Chasing Smiles In A New Van
Posted on: Saturday August 13, 2016
Despite having Duchenne muscular dystrophy, AJ Wise has one of those “melt your heart” smiles. He loves to discuss animals and racing, and enjoys fishing and spending time with his family. AJ’s smiles became less frequent as his disease robbed him of the use of his legs. This meant that his parents can no longer load him in and out of the family’s aging van without significant back strain. AJ, who is 14 years old, was confined to his home. Last fall, a team of people who care about AJ began trying to raise money for a new mobility vehicle for the family. Victory Lane Camp spearheaded the fundraiser. The Whitewater Valley Motorcycle Club joined the effort, raising funds toward the cause. As AJ’s condition deteriorated, multiple anonymous donors worked with Victory Lane Camp to add to all fundraising efforts. The down payment of $20,000 is now covered. The family will make monthly payments for the vehicle. Smiles were abundant on Friday, as the Wise family picked up their van at Superior Van and Mobility in Indianapolis. The vehicle is a 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan with a manual rear-entry bi-fold wheelchair ramp. According to Dawn McCool of Superior Van and Mobility, converting pre-owned vehicles for mobility is relatively new to the industry. However, this option made the vehicle more manageable financially for the Wise family. AJ’s vehicle underwent a 416-point inspection and has a warranty. “When I asked AJ what he thought about getting this new van, he said ‘Mommy, I’m so glad that it won’t hurt you getting me in and out of the van anymore,’” Taby Wise shared. “I am so very grateful to everyone that has been involved with making this happen.” Before taking the van home, the staff at Superior Van and Mobility conducted fittings to make sure AJ’s chair would be secure and provided a general orientation to the vehicle. Brett Fischer, Victory Lane Camp Founder, and Tiffanny Youngquist, Assistant Director, accompanied the family as they picked up the van. “Seeing the Victory Lane Community in action is such a blessing,” Brett expressed. “Coming alongside the Wise family is just one way Victory Lane is saying ‘you are not alone.’” Read more about AJ and his family.
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‘The Best Time of My Life’… and the Pool
Posted on: Monday August 8, 2016
Throughout the years of seeing her son’s peers go to camp in the summer, Christine Carey didn’t think camp was something her son, Alex, would get to experience. “God works things out,” Christine said at the last campfire at Cornerstone Campground during Victory Lane Camp’s second session of camp this summer. “We were supposed to be here.” During their time at camp, Christine felt overwhelmed by the love and support of strangers. Strangers, she describes, “who are becoming family.” She continued, “their sacrifice for my family is humbling. I know they are blessed and they see our challenges, but unsolicited help is rare in the life of our families. It is freeing.” The Careys were paired with the Backyard Mission Trip Family Kenny and Kristen Sylvester and their nephew, Jordan. Their connection was almost immediate and continued to grow strong throughout the week. When Alex’s father, Greg, was asked about the quick friendship formed between Alex and Kenny, he replied, “We’re taking him home with us!” Greg went on to share how helpful it was for their family to have someone else around. Christine echoed that sentiment in her reflections after camp, “We’ve all stayed connected. It truly is a life line. I breathe easier knowing I have a lot of support now. I had it with my close friends and family, but no one ‘gets it’ like those living it, or those like the Backyard Mission Trip Families who choose to submerse themselves in our world for days on end.” She went on to share about the continued growth of the friendships and support formed at camp, “These people we met who embrace our son and our family encouraged Alex through texts and Facebook his first week of school.” One significant moment that touched all three of the Careys was the auction at the final campfire. Families began bidding on a shark puzzle to help raise funds for a future Victory Family, and Alex asked his parents if they could bid. While they were discussing it, other families went back and forth in the bidding. Toward the end of the auction, all of the families left bidding were offering to give it to Alex. Christine expressed, “It made me a little teary eyed. I don’t think they even knew or realized that Alex was asking us to give money because he wanted to help.” After they returned to their camper that evening, they discussed what it meant for people to do that for Alex and how God had orchestrated so much of the week when Alex told his parents that God had given the puzzle to him because of all he learned about friendship and that “everyone is the same.” They now have plans to display their “most expensive piece of artwork,” as Greg refers to it, in a prominent place in their home as a reminder of the time spent at camp and the lessons learned. Christine and Greg are both thankful for their experience and the support they’ve gained. And Alex summed up his feelings about the week in his testimony on the last night, “This time of year has been the best time of my life. The best thing has been everything. Also, the pool.”
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Facing Fears and Making Friends at Bradford Woods
Posted on: Thursday July 28, 2016
Rick and Mette Shepherd love spending time with their grandchildren and when the opportunity came for them to take them to camp, it was something they knew they wanted to do. The family first heard about Victory Lane Camp through 321Go Kids’ Rehab, where Elijah participates in therapy for his cerebral palsy. “Brett (VLC Founder and lead therapist at 321Go Kids’ Rehab) talked to us about it and told us it would be a good experience for Elijah,” said Rick. “I just retired at the beginning of this year and thought there was no time like the present to go ahead and do it.” Since Elijah was three months old, one of the family’s goals was to see Elijah be able to run and play like a typical child. While at camp, they saw this goal accomplished. Elijah was running with the other children on uneven ground, even playing tag. “He has one foot that turns in, so he sometimes trips over his own feet. He did a great job of hanging with the kids, and none of the other kids viewed him differently. They interacted with him and just had fun,” Rick noted. Elijah wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the Victory Lane Camp experience. Older brother JJ made friends with other children who were close to his age, and he also connected with Mike Brown during campfire times. JJ had a breakthrough moment at camp involving the zip line. He knew he wanted to do the longer zip line, but battled some fear and anxiety about it. The team at Bradford Woods and several Backyard Mission Trip families worked with JJ, taking the process very slowly until he felt confident enough to take that step and zip across the extended line. He had a big cheering section as he conquered his fear. “It was the most thrilling thing to see,” Rick expressed. Rick was impressed with the people who manage the zip line and also the archery station staff. They guided Elijah through shooting a crossbow and JJ through shooting a crossbow and traditional bow. “They took ample time to work with them, and there wasn’t any frustration,” he said. “They were really exceptional.” Rick noticed that the two brothers seemed to get along better during camp. Elijah was able to cut loose and be a kid doing things that everybody was doing, and JJ was often beside him appreciating his brother and their newfound friends. Rick attributes much of their positive experience to the network of Backyard Mission Trip families. “The way the Victory Lane Camp team picks missions families, I wouldn’t change any of that for the world,” Rick shared. “You get what is needed for the kids, and they interact so well.”
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Family Volunteering Leads to Community Impact
Posted on: Monday July 11, 2016
Zonda Ketcham understands the impact of volunteering with her children. The Ketcham family has been an instrumental part of the Victory Lane Camp community since the summer of 2013. Zonda’s friendships with Sarah Urwin and Paige Fischer led to her involvement with VLC. “Sarah asked if I'd be interested in helping plan that first camp and we have been hooked ever since,” Zonda shared. Zonda helps plan activities for the week of camp. For the second summer of camp, Zonda took on the area of disability awareness. She explained, "It is a program geared for our Backyard Mission Trip Kids designed to educate them on different disabilities that their new friends experience every day and how to interact with their friends who have special needs.” Last year, Zonda facilitated the program with the help of volunteers, which included her four children. Daniel, Benjamin, Audrey, and Elizabeth have served alongside Zonda each summer and always look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. “To them, it is a week of fun. To me, it is an opportunity to see the Lord shine through them and learn to impact their community,” expressed Zonda. Through their experiences together as volunteers for VLC, Zonda can see the difference it makes in her children and her family. As she said, “Their world is much bigger than they realized and it is made up of many wonderfully different people. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses.” She continues, “Each of us is special in God’s eyes. He loves us very much, and we should love one another as He loves us.” Interested in a Backyard Mission Trip experience like this? Learn more here.
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Backyard Mission Trip Families Grow and Serve Together
Posted on: Wednesday June 22, 2016
The Upchurch family is an integral part of the Victory Lane Camp community. Their family has attended three camps as a Victory family, mother Dara Upchurch serves on the events and programming pit crews, and Victory kid Caden is well-known in VLC’s community for his winning smile and personality. The Cash family is also a vital part of the VLC community. Carmen and Scott are good friend with Brett and Paige Fischer, VLC’s founders, and helped with the first Pace Lap Camp. Both of these families served as Backyard Mission Trip families at the most recent camp session. This camp took place at Bradford Woods in Martinsville and included several Victory families and Backyard Mission Trip families. “Victory Lane Camp is in our heart,” said Dara. “Our family loves helping and being a part of things. We took it on, and it went great.” The Upchurch family was paired with the Coomer family. The two families knew each other beforehand, but the bonds developed while at camp led to deep friendships, especially between Dara’s son Hunter and Alyse, a Victory kid (the two are pictured in the above photo on the right). “Alyse kept smiling whenever Hunter was around. He wanted to help her and help me. One of my favorite memories was watching Alyse on the zip line. That might have been overwhelming for a three-year-old, but she took it all in stride and loved it,” described Dara. “We formed connections, which was what we were looking for and what it’s all about. We’re going to the next camp, and we’re already looking forward to that.” The Cash family wants to be sure that their kids grow up without an entitlement mentality. “It’s so easy to get caught up in being all about ourselves, so the best remedy for us was serving as a mission family.” Two of the Cashes’ sons, Grant and Luke, found friendships to be an important part of their experience. Grant said, “I liked getting to meet all the new kids.” Luke made a new friend, Will (Will and Carmen are pictured in the photo above on the left). “My favorite memories were watching my children and the Victory kids bond together because of all the quality time spent together in groups,” noted Carmen. “Camp truly brings you together because many distractions are eliminated.” The Cash home continues to be filled with the sweet sounds of the kids singing camp songs they learned at VLC. Their 7-year-old son, Caleb, pulled out his guitar because he is determined to play around the campfire next year. Learn more about becoming a Backyard Missions Trip Family.
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Victory Lap: VLC Kids Get An Up-Close Look At IndyCar Racing
Posted on: Friday May 27, 2016
When Dawn McCool from Superior Van and Mobility received word of an opportunity for a day at the Indianapolis 500 track, she knew just who to invite. Superior works with several families from Victory Lane Camp and have been a camp sponsor. “I think a lot of Victory Lane Camp and saw this as a way to give back,” Dawn said. The day is an initiative by Sam Schmidt of Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Schmidt was a rising star in the Indy Racing League when a tragic crash left him paralyzed. In partnership with Braunability, a company that customizes vehicles for people with mobility issues, Schmidt hosts these VIP events for wheelchair users. AJ Wise and his parents were already planning a family day for May 20, but those plans became more exciting after the phone call about the day at the Indianapolis Speedway. AJ’s family joined Ian Humphrey and his family, along with VLC staff, for an up-close look at Indycar racing. Ian and AJ both had the opportunity to meet Sam Schmidt and several other race car drivers and team members. One of the highlights of the day for AJ was meeting driver Tony Kanaan. “I gave him a fist bump and he gave me the hat that he was wearing to keep, and he autographed the hat,” AJ noted. “I liked seeing the race cars. I got 15 autographs and took lots of pictures and a video of Sam Schmidt.” AJ’s mom, Taby, was impressed with the fans in the garage area, who would often encourage drivers to talk with AJ. The group got a tour of the Indycar garage area, followed by lunch and time on their own to explore the track and observe practice. “Sam always makes himself available and is very approachable and down to earth,” Dawn expressed. The families who attended will be watching the 100th running of the Indy 500 with renewed interest. James Hinchcliffe, the driver for Schmidt’s team, has the pole position for the race. Dawn concluded, “It was great to see the kids get to experience the track, and it’s neat to see that someone who is so giving and caring like Sam Schmidt have his car in the pole position.” Get to know our VLC Community: Read about Ian’s ride in a sports car. Read about how you can make a difference for AJ.
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Mom’s Refresh: A time of renewal
Posted on: Tuesday May 17, 2016
Taby Wise’s main goal is to provide the greatest quality of life for her son, AJ. That means making personal sacrifices. One of which is going back to school for a nursing degree. Another is not spending a night away from him in 14 years. Angela Humphry and her husband have answered the call to adopt. They welcomed three boys into their family, each boy with his own physical or emotional needs. While she has been away for the night before, she sees the value in taking that time. Each of these women were able to experience some much needed time of renewal by attending the Mom’s Refresh Weekend hosted by Victory Lane Camp (VLC). Every Victory mom who has attended a VLC camp is invited to a weekend of connection, pampering, and rest. It originally began three years ago from Paige Fischer’s heart for women and vision for a much needed time of deeper connection for these moms. They meet at Brenda Miller’s house. They cook and eat together, talk and share stories, and have devotional and quiet time. This year, the weekend included a spa day. “We offer the weekend at a low cost for moms. The people who help donate to VLC help offset costs for moms to be able to come. During the spa day, local businesswomen came in to offer services: massages, facials, haircuts, manicures. Many of them donated their time to be there. And I’m very thankful for that,” explained Paige. She anticipates that next year’s Refresh weekend will outgrow the Miller’s home due to the increasing number of families participating in this summer’s camps. Taby was nervous to spend the night away from AJ but was still excited to go. Paige recalled, “When she knew there was going to be a mom’s weekend, she asked me when it was going to be so she could make sure she took that weekend off. I didn’t have the final plans made yet, but she was excited and rearranged her schedule to go.” The road to Mom’s Refresh wasn’t easy for Taby. The Wise family accrued unexpected expenses with their van. Taby thought it would be better for her, financially, to stay and work that weekend. She and Paige prayed over the situation together, and decided that Taby should apply for a High Five Crew grant. Through the help of the High Five Crew, Taby was able to go. “I’m thankful that the VLC High Five Crew was there for her,” Paige expressed. The weekend away helped Taby to see the value of setting aside time for herself as well as time for AJ’s dad, Jimmy. She explained, “I realized being away for those 2 days, AJ’s going to be okay. As long as he has good caregivers, it’s okay to leave him for a little bit and take that time. The biggest thing was realizing that I can set aside that time for me and Jimmy to get away and work on our relationship and make it stronger.” She continued to share about her VLC experience, “I’ve always had my faith in God. Sometimes we’ve swerved away. It’s really brought me back into my faith. I’m a very positive person anyway. It’s really lifted up my spirits to know that with so much moral support, I can handle anything.” Angela Humphry was also able to participate in part of the restful weekend. Even stating, “I didn’t want to come home, but I had to leave early. Twenty-four hours of being pampered and spoiled-- and just hanging out with other moms that get it-- is a way of connecting on a deeper level. Paige had arranged for haircuts and manicures and massages. It was just all stuff that I never do. I just don’t have time or want to spend the money. It was a lot of fun!” She went on to describe her experience with Victory Lane Camp as a whole, “It’s an awesome ministry. Their vision for it is unique. Ministering to special needs families and bringing alongside others that will continue to minister. It’s a lonely place sometimes. The support and encouragement is just a great, really unique ministry.” Mom’s Refresh is a valuable weekend for Victory Moms. It’s also a meaningful time for the woman who put it into motion, Paige Fischer. “They change my life just by living theirs. I get the honor of putting it together and being there to put puzzle pieces together. To watch them, it changes me. They’re inspirations.”
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Music and Photos Lead to Lasting Relationships
Posted on: Saturday April 30, 2016
Mike Brown has a gift for music. Ashley Brown has an eye for photography. Together, this couple has a heart for Victory Lane Camp. It began with Ashley visiting camp as the photographer three years ago. It continues as their whole family is now fully invested in the VLC community. Victory Lane Camp staff invited Ashley, who owns Ashley B’s Photography, to serve as camp photographer in 2013. “After doing the photography and seeing what it’s like, I fell in love with the kids, the whole vision of the camp, the whole vision for building community, how they went about bringing unity, and I fell in love with all of the VLC families.” The second summer, Ashley and the kids stayed during camp while Mike visited to help with entertainment and share music during the campfires. Mike took the time to get to know the campers, writing a song for each Victory kid. Music helps Mike connect with families at camp. Ashley recalled one particular connection, “He loves to sing with Chad. Chad always wanted to sing Lean On Me.” Mike continued, “He wanted to get up and sing the song with me. That was kind of our song. One of my favorite moments around the campfire was having him sing with me and lead with me, and having him get the attention.” Another one of Mike’s favorite moments was watching Claire react to the music. “You could tell she was enjoying it and connecting to it even though she couldn’t verbally communicate. You could see it through her eyes and her hands, the music in her. It helps you understand that the power of music can connect with all people no matter how they can communicate.” This summer, the whole family is excited about serving as a Backyard Missions Trip family. Mike and Ashley have seen the impact that VLC has made on their children. Mike shared, “I’ve enjoyed seeing my kids interact with people in the special needs community and not think anything different about them. They don’t see the disability.” Ashley echoed that in stating, “It changed the way my kids look at people with disabilities. Isaac will walk up to anyone and make friends.” They went on to say that some of their children’s best friendships were formed at camp. It has opened their minds and hearts. Even their 4 year old, Adalynn, looks forward to camp and often says, “I wish camp was every day!” Seeing families come together, connections made, and relationships built are highlights for the Browns. “In one week, you make relationships that would take years outside of camp. You don’t realize what parents with kids with special needs do on a daily basis. It’s a support team. We support each other,” Ashley expressed. Mike and Ashley have also observed growth in themselves since becoming a part of the VLC community. “We spend more time giving attention and communication to individuals with special needs,” Mike stated. He remembered a time that his family was at McDonald’s when they met two teenagers with disabilities. Mike began by telling one of them that he had a cool shirt. The conversation sparked from there. They spent several minutes talking together, and finally one of the young men said to them, “Hey thanks for talking to us. Nobody talks to us.” Their heart for the VLC community and individuals with special needs continues to grow, along with their passion for making positive connections. Ashley expressed, “God creates everybody. We’re all different. And we’re all loved by Him.” Learn more about becoming a Backyard Missions Trip Family.
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Board Member Uses Connections To Share About VLC
Posted on: Thursday April 14, 2016
When Clay Morgan first felt drawn to Victory Lane Camp, he wasn’t quite sure what he was getting into or what he would have to offer. He just knew he wanted to be a part of it. “It was something bigger than I was. I knew I could be a piece of the puzzle,” shared Clay. What began as attending a couple of meetings turned into becoming the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for VLC. Clay has been involved with VLC for the past two years. He also serves on the Henry County Council. Clay and his wife, Beth, are raising their five sons to value individuals with disabilities. Through attending Wilbur Wright elementary school in New Castle, some of their children have made quality connections with students in the special needs class. They continue to reach out and be supportive friends. Joining in the VLC community was “another step in the process of doing something bigger” for the Morgan family, as Clay expressed. In addition to serving on the Board, Clay is also an active advocate for VLC on social media. With the help of his campaign and position as a councilman, he is able to use social media to connect with a larger community. “The first thing is to build a trust relationship,” he explained. “I started sharing different things. Then, after a base was built, I started asking people to like the VLC Facebook page. Immediately, I had tons of friends start to like the page. Social media is a good way to get the word out!” Through his involvement with VLC, Clay has appreciated spending time with quality leadership. He finds being with out-of-the-box thinkers and people who are willing to be challenged has opened his mind to possibilities. As he shared, “It’s boosted my faith-- God can do big things in spite of ourselves. All we have to do is take it one step at a time and allow Him to do it.” At a recent conference for his county council position, Clay met a young man from Morgan County. After connecting with this man, Clay handed him a VLC brochure. The young man responded immediately and explained his involvement in a local baseball league for people with special needs. He shared that his community was looking for more ways to connect with families impacted by disabilities. Morgan County is home to Bradford Woods, where VLC is hosting a family camp this summer during June 10-13. Clay expressed, “That network had already started. A God thing. Now, we have that connection. He’s helping spread the word there.” With a heart for God and the bigger picture, Clay Morgan sees endless possibilities and hopes for expansion and opportunity. “Looks like God is allowing me to be a part of that expansion through networking. Through people that have a heart for this. The thread that is tying it all together is God.”
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Embracing Family Connections: The Millers and Youngquists
Posted on: Wednesday March 23, 2016
“I am proud to be Luke’s best friend, and I hope I make more friends like him.” –Bryce Youngquist, age 7 Friendships formed between children have the power to impact the people around them. This is what happened with the Youngquist and Miller families. David and Tiffanny Youngquist, along with their four children, Dylan, Jadyn, Skylar, and Bryce moved to New Castle a few years ago. David is a local recruiter for the United States Marines, and Tiffanny is the assistant director of Victory Lane Camp. As a family, they have all been on three Backyard Mission Trips. Jadyn helped develop the Teens In Mission (TIM) program introduced at the 2015 Pace Lap Camp. Dylan and Jadyn have both served as TIMs. The involvement of the Youngquist children led to a lasting connection with the Miller family. Doug and Brenda Miller and their sons Connor and Luke have been involved with Victory Lane Camp since the beginning. Luke is on the autism spectrum and communicates nonverbally. Brett Fischer, founder of Victory Lane Camp, has been Luke’s therapist since Luke was four. In addition to being a Victory Family, Brenda is on the pit crew and hosts moms’ weekends, and they are planning to serve as a Backyard Mission Trip Family. Brenda describes Victory Lane Camp as a community where “people get you and love you. What the struggles are, what the joys are, what the gift your child is. They get it. It’s not just acceptance. It’s an embrace. There’s a difference. They embrace who you are as a family. Not just your special needs kids— all of them.” Their experience with the Youngquist family began when Jadyn and Luke were paired at the 2015 Family and Marriage Enrichment Camp. Jadyn hung out with Luke, ate with him, and loved him. They were instant friends. Jadyn believes her friendship with Luke encouraged her to form more friendships with children who have special needs. The family friendships continued at the Pace Lap Camp last year when Dylan was Luke’s TIM. Dylan had this to say about their connection, “I have made a close and personal friend. When I think of Luke I don’t think of a kid with special needs, I think of one of my best friends.” Bryce, wanting to be like his older siblings, followed Luke and Dylan around. He began eating lunch and hanging out with them. “They got this bond that wherever we were, Bryce would be there. They just connected… Bryce became Luke’s best friend at camp,” Brenda explained. As Tiffanny recalled, “It was this friendship that caught the attention of all of the parents and encouraged the friendship between the Millers and Youngquists as whole families.” Since the connection among the children was made, the Millers and Youngquists have continued their friendship through Victory Lane Camp events, sharing meals, serving together on the Camp Programming Pit Crew, and even having a sleepover for Bryce and Luke. Through this bond, the Millers and the Youngquists found an unconditional love and respect for each other. “I love what being friends with the Millers has taught me. Doug and Brenda are truly an inspiration to me and I cherish the friendship we have. I hope it continues to grow,” expressed Tiffanny. In the same way, Brenda said, “I don’t think there’s any other family on the planet where all of the members have bonded in that way with Luke. They want to serve and help. And they just get Luke. There’s something special about the Youngquists. They’re an awesome family.” Each family continues to see positive growth within its members. David explained that this friendship has helped him to understand that families with children who have special needs often go through the same struggles. Brenda shared that watching the Youngquist children befriend Luke has helped Connor grow in confidence and appreciation for how special his brother is. She goes on to say, “I have learned to appreciate how much of a blessing Luke is to other people besides our family. Instead of sheltering people from him, the Youngquists opened my eyes to what Luke has to offer.” Skylar sums it up well: “I have made special friends that are different and I think different is good.”
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VLC One-Day Camp Coming to Bradford Woods
Posted on: Saturday March 12, 2016
Victory Lane Camp is presenting its first-ever one-day camp from 1 to 5 pm on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, Indiana. The “Family Challenge Camp” is designed specifically for families who have a child ages 3-13 with special needs. The one-day camp offers families the opportunity to challenge themselves in one of three areas: fitness, cooking, and arts. Families will need to choose one of the three challenges. Family Fitness Challenge- Participate in yoga/Pilates, a game, and martial arts. These activities will be adapted and inclusive for all family members. Family Cooking Challenge- Get dirty in the kitchen while testing your cooking skills. All family members will leave with a sense of accomplishment after creating their culinary masterpiece. Family Art Challenge- Rotate between painting and acting. During the painting rotation, each member will paint a canvas that, when combined with the other family members’ canvases, will create one beautiful painting. The acting rotation will bring the family together to create and perform their own short skit. The camp will conclude with a family campfire, complete with songs and skits. The cost for the Family Challenge Camp is $50 and covers all materials and a snack. In addition, families who sign up for a summer camp event with Victory Lane Camp at the event will receive a $50 credit toward their $100 deposit. The Family Challenge Camp fee can be paid here or at the event. Space is limited! Fill out your form (form link coming) today to let us know you’re coming. If you have questions, please call Tiffanny at (765) 591-4191. Sign up now.
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Five Steps To Camp: Victory Family
Posted on: Thursday March 10, 2016
Our camps are designed for families who have children (ages 3-13) with disabilities. This unforgettable experience for the WHOLE family includes learning, living, and laughing together. Connect with a loving community ready to support you through life’s challenges. Ready to sign up? Here’s how: 1. Choose which camp to attend. Bradford Woods (Martinsville, Indiana): 6/10-6/13, 2016 Cornerstone Campground (New Castle, Indiana): 7/21-7/24, 2016 2. Complete your application form and tell us a little about your family in the “VLC Experience” section. Also, be sure to upload your family’s photo. This will help the VLC community get to know you better. 3. Reserve your family’s spot by sending in your $100 deposit. The total cost for camp is $800, but Victory Lane Camp has generous donors who will cover half of your costs. You can mail your deposit to: Victory Lane Camp 1912 Bundy Ave. New Castle, IN 47362 You can use this link to pay online. Be sure to mark “Registration Fees” under the Designated Gift section. 4. Start a fundraising campaign or start setting aside a little each week for your remaining $300 in camp costs. This cost includes all lodging, food, therapy, workshops, and fun activities. 5. Read through the Camp Details and Frequently Asked Questions pages to help get ready for a great time at camp! Want to be a Backyard Mission Trip Family? Here are the five steps to becoming a Backyard Mission Trip Family.
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Five Steps to Camp: Backyard Missions Trip Family
Posted on: Thursday March 10, 2016
What if your whole family had the opportunity to serve together through an affordable missions trip experience that’s close to home? That’s what Victory Lane Camp offers through Backyard Mission Trips. Bring your ENTIRE family, and we’ll train and prepare each of you for a life-changing experience of playing, sharing, and supporting families who have children with special needs. It just takes five simple steps: 1. Decide which camp to attend. Bradford Woods (Martinsville, Indiana): 6/10-6/13, 2016 Cornerstone Campground (New Castle, Indiana): 7/21-7/24, 2016 2. Complete your application form. 3. Reserve your family’s spot by sending in your $100 deposit. You can mail your deposit to: Victory Lane Camp 1912 Bundy Ave. New Castle, IN 47362 You can use this link to pay online. Be sure to mark “Registration Fees” under the Designated Gift section. 4. Ask a family who has a child (ages 3-13) with a disability to join you at camp. This step is optional, but it’s a great way for you to connect on a deeper level with a family impacted by disabilities. Have a family in mind? Send them to the Five Steps To Camp for Victory Families. 5. Read through the Camp Details and Frequently Asked Questions pages to help get ready for a great time at camp!
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Building Friendships Through Victory Lane Camp
Posted on: Friday February 26, 2016
Sarah Urwin and Dara Upchurch are both moms with busy lives and a deep love for their families. It was this love that drew them both to the Victory Lane Camp community. Dara and David Upchurch have a blended family of eight. Noah is on the autism spectrum, and Caden was born with spina bifida. Caden was one of Brett Fischer’s pediatric physical therapy patients, and Brett invited the Upchurch family to attend the second Pace Lap Camp. Sarah and Jason Urwin and their three children have been involved with Victory Lane Camp since the brainstorming days. Sarah has a degree in Special Education and helped orchestrate the plan for Family Crew Chiefs. Sarah was the Family Crew Chief for the Upchurch family, a role that eventually led to a friendship with Dara Upchurch. “Dara is a strong woman who carries a great deal on her plate, along with her husband David,” Sarah noted. “She gets used to doing a great deal on her own, and my job the first week I met her was to plug into her world and help support her for the week. My hope was to build a bridge to help their family once camp was over. It became my joy, and a friendship was built.” Since their connection at camp, Sarah and Dara have continued to grow together as friends. The families participate in each other’s activities like Miracle League games, birthday parties, camp events, and they even share childcare. Sarah and Dara serve together on the Events Pit Crew, the team that assists with the banquet, chili cookoff and other VLC community activities. Serving on the pit crew has been a way to “give back to this organization that has been so great to our family,” as Dara explained. “When our busy schedules allow, Dara and I have been able to go out together as friends just to relax, encourage, and edify,” Sarah shared. “I am very thankful for her friendship.” Dara finds comfort in knowing that there will always be a shoulder for her to lean on. “Sarah was a blessing I desperately needed. She always has wonderful advice and truly cares about my family and myself. She understands me and is truly a dear friend that I am very thankful for.” Victory Lane Camp helps families form life-long connections and a community of support. Many of these relationships begin in the camp setting. “It builds a family type of connection, especially during the time at camp. When you see those individuals outside of camp, the connection is still there, and the monthly events are striving to keep that support in place,” expressed Sarah. Dara’s family has been blessed by these connections and support. They are regular attenders of Victory Lane Camp activities throughout the year, and not just because Dara is on the Events Pit Crew. “Being the parent of a special needs child doesn't have to be a scary, lonely world. There are people out there going through this, or ones who truly want to help,” Dara said. “Don't be afraid to ask for help and to accept help when offered. It has taken me a long time to accept that, and you never know what blessing can come from it.”
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Christ Presbyterian Church: Bringing Special Grace to Special Needs
Posted on: Wednesday February 3, 2016
Pastor Bob Clark sees the role of the local church as serving families with the compassion of Christ. His congregation, Christ Presbyterian Church, has supported and participated in the Victory Lane Camp community from the very beginning. Doug and Brenda Miller were involved in the initial planning of the Pace Lap Camp in 2013. They have since participated in camp as a Victory Family along with their sons, Luke and Conner. Joining as a fellow Victory Family are Cindy Cook and her son, Aaron. Cindy has served as a family crew chief and helped lead activities while Aaron has spent time making connections as a Victory Kid. Alongside the Victory Lane Families of Christ Presbyterian, are the Backyard Mission Trip Families. Chris and Val Moore and their four children are involved by serving on the board, coordinating meals for the summer, and participating during camp. Val Moore described the camp environment as “a time to serve and not self-serve” and found it to be a great opportunity to “come alongside others.” Lori Fowler and her children have also been involved as a Backyard Missions Family as well as meal coordinators. Lori additionally took on the responsibility of helping the Moore family care for their youngest child during camp in order for the Moores to be able to focus on their role as a Backyard Missions Family and support for the Miller family. Pastor Clark considers it a blessing to have many members participate as passionate leaders in this ministry. “The benefits are tremendous for any congregation that purposefully looks for ways to involve children who have varying challenges in their lives,” he expressed. “Although I could list a number of benefits the first ones that come to my mind are ‘patience’ and ‘humility.’ Essentially, taking the intentional step to place the needs of another above your own.” These members of Christ Presbyterian have found Victory Lane Camp to be a community that provides a way to serve as a partner to “bring special grace to special needs” as Pastor Clark phrased it. Continuing in acts of love and service as they grow, members of Christ Presbyterian church are able to learn together better how to relate to each individual within their church family. Relationships are enriched. Community is strengthened. And love is exemplified.
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Victory Lane Camp Hosts Event At Big Bounce
Posted on: Monday February 1, 2016
Victory Lane Camp invites all ages and abilities to "Fly Into February" from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 6, at Big Bounce in New Castle. The event is designed to accommodate families who have a child with special needs, and anyone who is interested in being a part of a supportive community is welcome. There will be no admission cost for those attending this event and a pizza supper will be provided. Victory Lane Camp (VLC) is a community designed to connect with families who have special needs with a network of friends and supporters. For more information, follow Victory Lane Camp on Facebook and Twitter.
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It's Time To Sign Up for Camp!
Posted on: Saturday January 9, 2016
We're gearing up for another incredible season of camps in 2016, and we want you to be a part of it. This year Victory Lane Camp is offering three different camps at two locations. Here's where we'll be: Bradford Woods (Martinsville): 6/10-6/13 and 6/14-6/17 Cornerstone Campground (New Castle): 7/21-7/24 We have openings for both Victory Families and Backyard Mission Trip Families. What is a Victory Family? If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 13 with disabilities, Victory Lane Camp is designed specifically for your entire family. We involve siblings and parents in these four memory-filled days. When you connect with Victory Lane Camp, you're becoming part of a loving community who is trained and excited to love and support your family. Victory Family Registration Form What is a Backyard Mission Trip Family? Victory Lane Camp offers an affordable, inclusive option for families who want to vacation with a purpose. Individuals, couples, and families with children of all ages are invited to become part of an expanded community of friends that include children with disabilities. Group sessions help build relationships and lasting memories of service, challenge and fun. Discover a healthy learning environment with real-life lessons on ethics and worldview. Backyard Mission Trip Registration Form Deposits are needed to save your spot. Send yours to Victory Lane Camp / 1912 Bundy Ave / New Castle, IN 47362. Do you have questions? Contact us at (765) 591-4191 or send an e-mail to victory@VictoryLaneCamp.org
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Small Things With Great Love
Posted on: Monday December 28, 2015
When Charlotte Tucker heard her brother Brett’s vision for a community that would embrace families with children who have special needs, her first thought was “Wow.” She knew right away that she wanted to be involved. The only problem she could see was that she was 12 hours away. Distance didn’t stop her involvement, though. With a background in serving as a school nurse for special needs field trips and having a beloved 20-year-old nephew with autism, Charlotte already had a love for children with special needs. And as she began to form new friendships after relocating to New Jersey, Victory Lane Camp gave her something interesting to discuss. Many of her new friends shared her passion for the vision of VLC. This summer, Charlotte was able to attend Pace Lap Camp with her daughter Rachael who is studying occupational therapy at Seton Hall. Rachael had the opportunity to job shadow with Dusti Dobbs, who has served as a VLC therapist for several years. Charlotte served as a family crew chief. “I loved being the crew chief for Johnny’s family. I found myself asking questions to Cheri, Johnny’s mom, and she was very open with me. I really appreciated getting to know the Victory families and growing my understanding of what they experience,” Charlotte said. “I’m able to keep up with them on Facebook and when they put up prayer requests, I take those requests to my friends for prayer.” In addition to sharing prayer requests, Charlotte also shared a video created from photos she took at camp. While presenting this video to a women’s group she’s involved with, one of the group members approached her afterwards and asked Charlotte to come and talk to a Columbiettes group. After sharing with the Columbiettes, that organization decided to dedicate the funds from their December “Souper Bowl” event to Victory Lane Camp. The funds from the event, in addition to generous gifts that followed, totaled a $1,000 donation to VLC. Charlotte is already talking about coming to one of the camps that VLC is offering this year at Bradford Woods in Martinsville. She hopes that as VLC grows, she can help with a one-day camp for her area. “Mother Theresa once said, ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love,’” Charlotte shared. “That’s what I want. To do as many small things as I can with great love.”
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Wise Wheels: How You Can Make A Difference
Posted on: Monday December 14, 2015
Taby Wise knows her son needs to get out more. AJ is a teenager who loves learning, especially about animals. “He likes to go fishing, to the zoo, to the aquarium, history museums. He also likes going out to eat and to his favorite video game store,” Taby noted. Unlike most teens, however, AJ has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and the disease is progressing at a rapid rate. So not all of AJ’s trips are “fun.” The family makes at least four trips to doctors’ appointments each month. These appointments are at least a 45-minute drive away, and sometimes closer to two hours. While driving, Taby is often praying. She is praying that the family’s van with more than 220,000 miles on it will make it back home. She is praying that they don’t get in an accident, because AJ’s bones are fragile. She is praying that AJ will not get sick on the way due to the bouncing from the van’s worn shocks. When they arrive at their destination, AJ is usually exhausted. “It puts bruises on his legs because he uses his legs to push up. It’s really tough on his body for him to transport from his wheelchair into the vehicle and back,” Taby expressed. “Traveling is very hard, and it wears him out. He doesn’t want to go anywhere.” That’s where you come in. The Victory Lane Camp community is raising funds to help the Wise family get a van with a conversion lift to help AJ travel safely and easily. You can help right now. Make a Donation Create a donation can and help collect funds. Help secure a corporate sponsorship or grant. Ask your service group or church group to make a donation. If you have questions, contact Brett or Tiffanny at (765) 591-4191. You can help get AJ on the road with a safe, specialized vehicle!
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Stories of Connections and Community
Posted on: Monday November 23, 2015
Todd Tibeault has never sat around the campfire with Victory Lane Camp (VLC), and yet he still feels a deep connection with the people in the VLC community. The past few years have been challenging for the Tibeaults. Todd’s wife, Brandi, has struggled with health issues and his son, Mason, has special needs. VLC volunteers built a ramp for the family’s home to help make their lives easier. He felt the love and support of a community designed to surround families with children who have special needs, and the Tibeault family plans to continue to be part of the VLC community by attending the year-round connection events and a camp session this summer. “It takes special people to take care of the special people that take care of a child with special needs,” he expressed. Tibeault was one of four speakers who shared “Campfire Conversations” during the recent VLC annual banquet. This year’s theme was “S’more than a Camp” and highlighted the organization’s year-round impact. Additional conversations featured Jadyn Youngquist, Dusti Dobbs, and Cindy Cook. Jadyn Youngquist, age 12, talked about how serving with Victory Lane Camp has helped her gain confidence. She is helping to develop a program for teens and pre-teens, called Teens In Mission or “TIMs,” that will give students a chance to build life-changing relationships with children who have special needs. Dusti Dobbs sees first-hand the benefits of the TIM program. During her work as a therapist, the TIMs helped in the therapy sessions and provided enthusiasm and encouragement to the “Victory Kids,” children with special needs. Cindy Cook of the Richmond area has watched her son Aaron, who is a “Victory Kid,” become part of the Victory Lane Camp community. Before this, Aaron didn’t have other kids to play with, but he has made many friends through Victory Lane camp. More than 120 people attended the banquet, which was catered by Paula Howe Catering. Jessica Tomlinson decorated cupcakes for the event. Jerry Ingalls served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening’s activities. The banquet was made possible through the generous donations of corporate sponsors which included ASI, Trilogy, Just Mulch, and the Sears Hometown Store of New Castle, Indiana. “I loved hearing stories from all of our speakers. We had Victory Families in attendance, which was a nice addition to the evening,” noted Tiffanny Youngquist, Assistant Director. “I appreciate the hard work of the Events ‘Pit Crew’ who put the event together.”
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Change of Heart: Board President Builds Bonds
Posted on: Tuesday November 10, 2015
When Don Criswell was growing up, he wasn’t taught how to interact with children who had special needs. He felt like he needed to stay out of their way, finding it easier to ignore them and doing his best not to stare or be rude. That all changed at Don’s first Pace Lap Camp three years ago. “I just fell in love with the Victory Kids,” Don expressed. “I realized that these are just children who can’t walk. They have dreams, too.” Fast-forward three years. Don and his wife, Beth, have been involved with all three Pace Lap Camps. The camps always coincide with the couple’s wedding anniversary, but neither one seems to mind. This year, they brought their youngest granddaughter to join them as Backyard Missionaries. Don serves as the board president for Victory Lane Camp. As a long-time small business owner, he offers leadership, guidance, and most importantly, heart. Don shares the story of attending church with his daughter who lives in Michigan. While in the parking lot, Don noticed a man getting his daughter out of the car to go into church. The young lady had special needs and had a wheelchair and medical equipment that accompanied her. “It seemed like it took him forever to get her ready to go into church. I began to pray for him and for their family,” Don said. When he visited the church the next time, he looked specifically for that family and when he saw them, he approached the father and let him know that he continued to pray for them. Don told the family about Victory Lane Camp and his involvement. “Five years ago, it wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to notice or talk with that family,” he noted. At this summer’s Pace Lap Camp, Don connected with AJ, a Victory Kid. The two bonded while riding Don’s golf cart every night in between dinner and campfire time and often ate together, making inside jokes and giving each other a hard time. The two were able to re-connect at the recent ice cream social and chili cookoff. AJ even had the opportunity to ride in the convertible that Don arranged to have at the cookoff. That 2002 Corvette convertible is another story of Don’s growing heart for children with special needs. When Don went to see how he could help a Victory Family who had sustained weather-related damage on their property, he found out that their son Ian was a big fan of sports cars. Don asked his friend Clyde Powers to bring his yellow convertible to the cookoff, and the two took turns giving rides to Victory kids during the event. The smiles that resulted were priceless. Don looks forward to continuing as an active member of the board and building the relationships he’s already established through Victory Lane Camp. VLC is thankful for Don and the other members of our board of directors for their dedication and hard work.
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Joni and Friends Provides Training, Connection Opportunities at Regional Conference
Posted on: Friday October 23, 2015
Joni and Friends is an international organization dedicated to ministering to people with disabilities, founded by Joni Eareckson Tada. Tada became a quadriplegic at age 17 in a diving accident, but has gone on to be a sought-after artist, speaker, and teacher. This spring, Joni and Friends hosted the Global Access conference in California and shared a regionally focused version of the conference at Indiana Wesleyan University. Joni and Friends invited Brett Fischer, Founder and CEO of Victory Lane Camp, to speak at this “Hope in the Midst of Suffering” conference on October 16-17. Brett spoke about the future of the disabled in secular society and “Finding Hope in Nopeville.” “The first presentation was about obeying Christ’s call to serve the underserved. The future really is optimistic for the disabled when the church is educated and ready to serve,” Brett said. “The main point of the ‘Nopeville’ presentation is that in a culture saying ‘no’ to people with disabilities, we can say ‘yes’ through service, love, and friendship.” One of the primary speakers for the event was Steve Bundy of Joni and Friends, who serves as Vice President of the Christian Institute on Disability. He referenced Luke 14, where Jesus shares the parable of the great banquet. The master orders the servant to bring in the lame, deaf, and blind. Beyond simply extending an invitation to the banquet, the servant is ordered to compel them to come in so that the house would be full. The implication is that it’s not going to be easy, and requires work and intentionality. “That was a powerful statement for me,” noted Brett. “At Victory Lane Camp, we want to make it easier for families to hear about what VLC has to offer and to become part of this community.” Joni and Friends hosted booths for a variety of organizations at the event, including VLC. This gave Brett the opportunity to connect with college students and other ministry leaders at the local, regional, and national levels. One of the breakout sessions led by Kate Brueck, Church Relations Manager at Joni and Friends of Charlotte, focused on how people with disabilities are perceived by church leadership. “More and more, I’m convinced that God has a heart and a passion for people with disabilities, and any church that doesn’t include the people with disabilities is missing out on a huge blessing,” Brett expressed. For more information about Joni and Friends visit www.JoniAndFriends.org.
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Yellow Corvette Steals The Show At Chili Cook-off
Posted on: Tuesday October 6, 2015
Victory Lane Camp recently hosted a fall wheel race and chili cook-off. The events attracted nearly 100 attendees, and raised more than $2,000 toward the Family Scholarship Fund. This fund helps families who have children with disabilities attend camp. Eleven children raced in the wheel race, which took place at the Lewisville outdoor rink. The Lewisville Park Committee donated the facility rental for this event. NuMotion supplied the wheelchairs, and Jack’s Donuts, McDonald’s, and Big Bounce supplied prizes. Jerry Ingalls served as the emcee for the race, which was organized by Natasha Hamilton, Tiffanny Youngquist, Dara Upchurch, and Paige Fischer. The festivities moved to The Gathering in Lewisville, where the Victory Lane community convened for the annual Chili Cook-Off. Winners included Carmen Cash in the Zesty & Spicy category, Beth Criswell in the “Most Like Mom’s” category, Laura Anderson in the Richest & Thickest category, and Natasha Hamilton in the Most Creative category. Ashley Brown won the coveted “Most Popular” prize, which attendees voted on using $1 votes. This year’s cook-off included a bake sale. Items were auctioned off, and Angela Humphrey’s Pumpkin Crunch Cake netted the top donation of $120. Perhaps the highlight of the day was the arrival of a bright yellow Corvette driven by Clyde Powers, friend of Victory Lane Camp Board President Don Criswell. Criswell knew a young man associated with Victory Lane who had always wanted to ride in a race car. “It was priceless to see the smiles on the kids as they rode in the car,” noted Victory Lane Founder and CEO Brett Fischer. “We appreciate all of the people who helped make this a special day for our Victory Lane Camp community.”
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Hear Brett and Dr. Kathy McReynolds of Joni and Friends Share on Moody Radio
Posted on: Monday October 5, 2015
Brett Fischer, Founder and CEO of Victory Lane Camp, recently spoke on WGNR about the upcoming "Hope in the Midst of Suffering" conference. WGNR also interviewed Dr. Kathy McReynolds, an adjunct professor at Biola University in California. Dr. McReynolds is the Public Policy Director for the Joni and Friends Christian Institute on Disability. She is the author of the "Beyond Suffering" curriculum. Listen to these two interviews by following the links below. Listen to Dr. McReynolds. Listen to Brett Fischer.
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Building Relationships After Camp
Posted on: Tuesday September 22, 2015
When people think of Victory Lane, it’s often in terms of a camp setting. However, the relationships formed last well beyond the week of camp. As plans continue for the Chili Cook-off on September 26, enjoy these smile-worthy scenes: During a bedtime conversation at the Fischer home, Bryce asked his dad if there would be a Victory Lane Camp if there weren’t any children who had special needs. When his dad said there would not be, Bryce bowed his head and expressed in prayer, “Dear Jesus, thank you for children that have special needs.” (Bryce is pictured left with his friend Josiah.) Victory Mom Cheri Lorton has kept friendships with several other families from this year’s Pace Lap Camp. “I love seeing them throughout the community when we are out and about and at community events.” (Cheri's son Johnny is pictured to the right.) Camp is a year-round mentality for the Brown family. Ashley serves as VLC’s official photographer. Mike led music around the campfire this year at Pace Lap Camp, writing a song for each Victory kid. Their children were part of the Backyard Mission Trip training. The Browns have continued relationships with several Victory families, with their children often leading the way in making these connections. (Mike Brown and Finn pare pictured to the left.) Do you have a VLC story? We want to hear it! Please send us a message at victory@VictoryLaneCamp.org or call Christy at 765-520-5976.
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Company Connections Lead to Camp Community
Posted on: Friday September 4, 2015
Imagine working for a company that pays you to volunteer. This is exactly what Liferay, Inc. does for its employees. This year, Victory Lane Camp welcomed Liferay staff members who came to serve at Pace Lap Camp: the Keller family, along with Sam Chun and Igor Arouca. Although their “day jobs” involve working for a global technology company without a direct correlation to the special needs community, at camp they served as team leaders and activity coordinators. “My company gave us an amazing opportunity. I had no experience working with people with disabilities,” said Sam Chun. “I was hesitant at first, but everyone embraced me and I haven’t felt anything like this outside of my personal family.” The Keller family of Illinois attended with their two young sons. At first, Erin Keller wasn’t sure about camping with two small children. It was their first time camping as a family, and they weren’t really sure what Victory Lane Camp was all about. “We ended up having probably the most amazing time of our lives,” Roguen Keller expressed during the campfire time on the last night of camp. “It’s the kind of experience I wish I had as a child growing up, and it was wonderful to be a part of something like this for my two boys.” Liferay is a technology company based in California with satellite offices around the world. But it’s more than a multinational company. According to the Liferay website, the company was founded for a purpose greater than revenue and profit growth. Liferay contributes quarterly earnings to worthy causes selected by their employees. The Kellers, Igor, and Samuel were a vital part of Pace Lap Camp this year and are hoping to be able to attend some of the camp community events happening throughout the year, like the Chili Cook-Off. “I thought I was going to come to make a huge difference, and you all make a huge difference in me,” Sam said to the VLC family. “This is more than just a camp for kids with disabilities.” For information about how your company can partner with Victory Lane Camp for future camps, please contact Tiffanny@VictoryLaneCamp.org.
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Discovering the Inner Superhero
Posted on: Wednesday August 19, 2015
AJ Wise loves the outdoors. He loves animals (especially his dog Terrell). And he loves superheroes. As a 13-year-old living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, however, he couldn’t see his own superpowers and became accustomed to saying “I can’t” when it came to many things. That changed when AJ came to Victory Lane Camp’s Pace Lap Camp. AJ discovered his inner superhero. He was hesitant at first, but AJ quickly gained a new understanding of what he is capable of doing and became somewhat of a celebrity among the families at camp. His sidekick service dog Terrell, turbo fast wheelchair, and extensive knowledge about everything from animals to hot peppers were the first superhero signs people noticed. As the week went on, his relentless determination became his most obvious superpower. This determination has continued after camp. “AJ has been so motivated to do things, and his spirits have been really high,” said his mom Taby. “He doesn’t give us any hassles when it comes to doing his stretches and stuff.” AJ’s nurse attended therapy sessions with AJ at camp. Greg Kaucher, AJ’s assigned therapist for the week, introduced her to innovative stretches and therapy techniques that she could do with AJ outside of camp. AJ is continuing therapy sessions at 321Go Kids therapy clinic. While at camp, AJ ventured out of his comfort zone to star in skits around the campfire and take a canoe ride in an adaptive canoe. He became a fixture on the nightly golf cart circuit with VLC Board Member Don Criswell. AJ’s parents loved that camp involved the whole family and included all types of families. They enjoyed making connections that they intend to keep long after camp, and are eager for upcoming activities with the Victory Lane Camp community. “A lot of places, you feel like you are by yourself. I’ve never felt so welcome. We were included as opposed to being excluded,” Taby expressed. “There are people out there who do care and do want to help. There is hope.”
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Teens In Mission Bring Help And Blessings
Posted on: Friday August 7, 2015
Jadyn Youngquist’s contagious enthusiasm for serving children with special needs is impossible to miss. The pre-teen even has colored bands on her braces that match the Victory Lane Camp logo. The VLC staff naturally turned to Jadyn when it came time to launch a program for the 11-16 year old Backyard Mission Trip participants. Jadyn was instrumental in creating the TIM program. TIM stands for Teens In Mission, also giving a nod to I Timothy 4:12, which begins “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young.” Through the TIM program, pre-teens and teens are given a chance to be more involved with Victory Kids and their families. Jadyn was one of five TIMs at this year’s Pace Lap Camp, the first time the program was fully implemented. Each TIM was assigned a Victory Kid and asked to stick with them through therapy and camp activities. The TIM gets to know the entire Victory Family in order to anticipate any needs and assist the family throughout camp week. This year’s TIMs included Dylan Youngquist, Samuel Fischer, Jacob Haney, and David Urwin. Jadyn was assigned to Claire Wallace. “If I hadn’t been given Claire to work with, I wouldn’t have felt the extreme need to get to know her,” Jadyn expressed. “The TIM program pushed me to meet her, and it’s been such a blessing for me.” Jadyn is helping to expand the TIM program outside of the camp week. The expanded TIM program would involve the TIMs agreeing to work through a list of fun and interactive expectations, such as cheering on a Victory Kid at a school program and volunteering at a pediatric therapy clinic or in a special needs classroom. “The tasks are designed in order to help the TIM get closer to the Victory Kid and the family, but on a step-by-step level so that the parents don’t feel like it’s too much at one time,” Jadyn noted. Do you know someone who would make a great TIM? Contact Tiffanny at email@example.com.
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Relationships, Learning Are Central At Third Pace Lap Camp
Posted on: Wednesday July 22, 2015
Victory Lane Camp recently hosted its third annual Pace Lap Camp at Cornerstone Campground in New Castle. More than 30 families were impacted by the week-long camp that included training, therapy, and relationship-building. Victory Lane Camp is designed to empower and equip “Victory Families” who have children with disabilities and to surround them with supportive community. “We also spend time training and equipping ‘Backyard Mission Trip’ families so that they learn ways to be helpful and encouraging to these Victory Families,” noted Camp Founder Brett Fischer. Throughout the week, children in Backyard Mission Trip families experienced interactive stations to help them gain understanding of what it is like to live with disabilities. Victory Kids received regular therapy sessions, and Victory Parents received training about overcoming issues common to families with children who have disabilities. Several special activities doubled as bonus therapy sessions, allowing Victory Kids to have a good time while reaching therapy milestones. Water activities, including a wheelchair friendly “car wash,” were a big hit with all of the campers. Silly Safaris provided a hands-on educational program for camp families. “An old-fashioned country hoe-down became an opportunity for a therapist to dance with one of the campers, which meant he was walking for 20 minutes,” noted Fischer. “This is something that he likely wouldn’t have achieved in a traditional therapy setting.” Community groups and churches provided meals for the campers during the week. Each night ended with a campfire featuring humorous skits, a music video featuring scenes from the day’s events, and singing led by Mike Brown. The week’s activities culminated with the annual wheel race. This relay had kids of all abilities competing together in teams using wheelchairs and tricycles. This year’s race featured more than 35 participants and was emceed by Jerry Ingalls. Many Victory Lane Camp supporters came to watch the race and cheer on the competitors. Camp activities served as a backdrop for relationship-building that happened throughout the week. Two kids who really bonded were Luke Miller and Bryce Youngquist (pictured top right). Luke is age 13 and has special needs. Bryce is 7 and saw how much fun his 11-year-old sister Jadyn had when she was with Luke. “Bryce wanted to stow away in our luggage after camp. He is ready to become a Miller and has already laid claim to the empty bunk in Luke's room,” noted Luke’s mom, Brenda. “Luke is happy when I am around him and I am happy when I am around Luke,” said Bryce. Watch for more stories from Pace Lap Camp in upcoming blogs. Want to receive our blogs via e-mail? Sign up on the home page. The blog sign-up is on the right side near the bottom.
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Meet the Lorton and Wise Families
Posted on: Wednesday July 1, 2015
Pace Lap Camp is just weeks away (July 12-19) and a total of six Victory Families are signed up to enjoy a memorable week of camp together. Victory Families are those who have a child who has special needs, and each Victory Family is paired with a supportive team during the week of camp. Parents will participate in helpful training and kids receive therapy in a fun camp environment. Siblings are part of the experience as well and have opportunities to fish, play mini-golf, and lots more. Two of the families attending Pace Lap Camp are the Lorton (pictured right) and Wise (pictured left) families. The Lorton family includes Anthony, Cheri, Malaya, and Johnny. Johnny was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer and was given just a 10% chance of survival. He just celebrated his fifth year being cancer free. Johnny and Malaya have big hearts and are very loving. Cheri is a student in addition to caring for her kids. Anthony is a dispatcher. The Wise family includes Andrew, also known as “AJ.” AJ is 13 and was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy when he was five months old. He has a service dog named Terrel. AJ’s grandparents are very involved in his life and visit frequently. AJ’s mom, Tabitha, is a student at Ivy Tech and his dad, James, works at the New Castle Correctional Facility. The cost for a Victory family to attend the Pace Camp is $3,000. The families have already paid $300 each to reserve their spot. Victory Lane Camp has established a Family Camp Scholarship Fund to help cover the remaining balance. Your donation to this fund supports Victory families like the Lorton and Wise families. Find information about our Family Scholarship Fund here.
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'It Was An Awesome Opportunity'
Posted on: Friday June 19, 2015
The Ingalls family loves ministering to others and getting involved with Victory Lane Camp as a Backyard Mission Trip family has become an extension of that ministry. Jerry serves as pastor at First Baptist Church in New Castle and his wife Kimberly is involved with several ministries, including AWANA at First Baptist. Their children Beorn, Alana, and Willow have accompanied Jerry and Kimberly to two Victory Lane Camps, most recently the Marriage and Family Enrichment Camp in May. The Ingalls served as the teaching team at this camp, interacting with Victory couples for nearly nine hours during the training times. “This was my absolute favorite time, but I also enjoyed the informal conversations that happened outside those times of teaching,” Jerry expressed. “My wife and I were blessed in our own marriage and family through this intentional time of engagement.” While serving as a Backyard Mission Trip family, the Ingalls’ children fit in to camp life naturally. Willow, who was just a baby while at Pace Lap Camp last year, tagged along with her mom at all activities. The two older children, Beorn and Willow, each found new friends. “They just dove in. Kids don’t see disabilities. They just see another kid there to play with,” noted Kimberly. “It was wonderful spending time with the families and getting to know the families’ hearts.” The Ingalls loved the time that they were able to spend together as a family while serving at Victory Lane Camp. Kimberly has this advice for families considering a Victory Lane Camp Backyard Mission Trip: “Go for it. You won’t regret it. It was a positive experience for the kids and we had family time together. It was an awesome opportunity.” Click here for more information about our Victory Lane Camp Backyard Mission Trip program.
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Building Families and Communities… and Discovering the ‘Nacho Man’
Posted on: Friday June 5, 2015
"This weekend is one our family will always remember,” noted Natasha Hamilton when talking about the recent Marriage and Family Enrichment Camp. Victory Lane Camp presented the weekend on May 22-25, and three Victory families attended along with five Backyard Mission Trip families. This was the first family camp for children with special needs that had ever been hosted at Bradford Woods, which is a retreat center located near Bloomington, Indiana. The 2,500-acre natural setting was an ideal setting for the training, therapy, and relationship building planned for this weekend. Each Victory family (those who have at least one child with special needs), had nearly nine hours of 321Go Family training during the weekend. This training continued to deepen the foundation built during the Pace Lap Camp time last July. Jerry and Kimberly Ingalls helped to lead this time of training and teaching, much of which centered on strengthening marriage relationships. Victory couples enjoyed a quiet evening together for a date. While parents were in training, the Backyard Mission Trip families facilitated adaptive group activities which allowed all of the children to participate together. In addition, children with special needs received therapy in a fun and relaxed environment. “I really want to thank Brett and Paige Fischer for creating such a wonderful organization,” Natasha said. “I’m also thankful for Kimberly Ingalls and her family for speaking to my husband and I about decisions we need to make as a couple.” Families had an opportunity to do a variety of activities including a zip line, climbing tower, cargo net tower, pontoon boat ride, canoeing, fishing, and swimming. “We were the first group to use the cargo net tower challenge course,” mentioned Tiffanny Youngquist, Victory Lane Camp staff member. Tiffanny, her husband David, and their four children served as a Backyard Mission Trip family. “It was a great start to our 2015 year of camping and continues to lay the foundation for community building that will continue the rest of the year,” expressed Brett Fischer, Victory Lane Camp CEO and Founder, who also provided therapy services during this weekend. “Each night we had a campfire and skits. In one of the skits, we used the song ‘Macho Man.’ The next day, little Madison Muncy (part of a Backyard Mission Trip Family) stopped me and said, ‘I know you! You’re the Nacho Man!’ We are still laughing about that one.”
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Making Smiles Possible: Family Scholarship Fund
Posted on: Tuesday May 19, 2015
It’s not easy being a parent with a child who has special needs. In addition to energy spent in typical family life, there are doctor visits, therapy appointments, time off of work, and insurance negotiations. The expenses can quickly add up, making it difficult to add “extras” into the family budget. Victory Lane Camp realizes that while all families can benefit from a camp experience, affording it may be another matter. The Family Scholarship Fund was established to help families of children with special needs afford camp. Each family contributes at least 10 percent of the cost of camp, and receives lodging, training seminars for the parents, family fun activities, and physical/occupational/speech therapy for children who have special needs. We’re looking for “day donors” to support families through the Family Scholarship Fund. Here’s how it works: -Full Day Donation Level- $500 -Half Day Donation Level- $250 -Victory Lane Camp Supporter- $100 Other donations are welcome, too! This is a great time to donate to the Family Scholarship Fund. Sulphur Springs Christian Church is providing a matching fund for each donation up to a total of $1,000. We have two families in need of help from the Family Scholarship Fund to attend the Marriage and Family Enrichment Camp this weekend. Find out more about their stories by clicking here. Donate directly to the Family Scholarship Fund by clicking here or visit the home page and go to the “Donate Now” button on the right-hand side of the page. Have more questions about how you can be involved with Victory Lane Camp? Send us an e-mail at victory@VictoryLaneCamp.org.
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The Second Lap: Marriage & Family Enrichment Camp
Posted on: Friday May 8, 2015
Three of our Victory families who have already experienced the Victory Lane Camp “Pace Lap” week are attending the second lap: Marriage and Family Enrichment Camp. This edition of Victory Lane Camp will be at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, Indiana, during Memorial Day weekend. During this weekend, families will share in a variety of activities. Parents will attend seminars while kids spend time in innovative learning and play, incorporating therapy for our campers who have special needs. The families will be joined by several Backyard Mission Trip Families. Please be in prayer for all the families involved with this camp. The Backyard Mission Trip families have been fully funded. Two of the Victory families are still seeking funds to help pay for camp. Learn more about how you can come alongside these families by visiting our Meet the Families page.
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5 Steps to Camp: Victory Families
Posted on: Thursday April 30, 2015
Do you have a child with a disability (age 3-13)? Would your family be interested in an unforgettable week of camp? We would love to have you join us at our 2015 Pace Lap Camp on July 12-18 at Cornerstone Campground in New Castle, Indiana. Stay at camp, participate in fun activities, attend workshops designed to support and equip your family, and get to know other families. Your child will receive 16 hours of physical, occupational, or speech therapy that can help them make big strides in the course of several days. Here are five steps to going to camp: 1. Follow the link to our “Let’s Go Camping Page.” You’ll find an online application that you can fill out. 2. Set aside the entire week of July 12-18. Trust us… it’s well worth a week of vacation to spend time together as a family making memories and surrounding yourself with amazing people. 3. Be sure that we have your family’s photo and description so that Victory Lane Camp supporters can start to get to know you. You’ll also need to fill out a background check for your family’s adult members. 4. Start setting aside a little each week to save the $300 camp fee. That’s for your WHOLE family and includes food, lodging, therapy, workshops, and fun activities. We will work alongside your family, using social media and many generous VLC supporters to help you raise the remainder of the $3,000 to attend camp. 5. Get ready for a great week!
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Making Connections at Homeschool Conference
Posted on: Thursday April 23, 2015
The Midwest Homeschool Convention attracts families from around the region and Victory Lane Camp was on hand to share about the VLC community. The Fischer and Youngquist families helped to staff the booth and met many families who were interested in learning more about VLC. John Stonestreet from Breakpoint spoke on “Restoring All Things” and gave Victory Lane Camp as an example of how Christ is working through everyday people to bring the kingdom of Christ to communities. “After John mentioned Victory Lane Camp’s connection with the Centurion Program, we had a significant increase in visitors, questions, and sign ups at our booth,” expressed Brett Fischer, VLC Founder and CEO. Fischer was a guest presenter at the conference. He presented “Finding Hope in Nopeville,” a variation on the presentation that he gave in California at the Global Access Conference.
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‘The Best Vacation To Take With Your Kids’
Posted on: Wednesday March 25, 2015
Janis Muncy remembers being a physical therapy student and working with people who had special needs. “It was a formative experience for me and it changed my life,” she noted. So when her friend Paige Fischer started talking about Victory Lane Camp, Janis knew she wanted to be part of this exciting community. “I was on the planning committee for the first two camps, and my kids came on the last day of the first camp.” That was all it took for the Muncy children, ranging in age from 2 to 14, to insist that the entire family be a part of camp in 2014. They had to make some hard choices, like giving up other camps and vacations, but it was well worth it. “Kids are kids,” Janis said. “If they’re having a good time, they don’t care what you might look like. They weren’t out to be any kind of missionary, but when they needed to serve, they did.” Through the experience, the entire Muncy clan met new people, made friends, and had a lot of fun. It expanded their awareness of families with special needs and planted seeds of growth. Victory Lane Camp taught the family that making something accessible is a priority and accepting differences is a good thing. “Of anything you choose to do, if you have the opportunity to take this trip you’ll find it worthwhile,” Janis expressed. “It’s the best vacation I can recommend to take with your kids where they will experience the intangible love and appreciation that you get from other people.” Find out more about how your family can take a Backyard Mission Trip by clicking here.
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Victory Lane Camp Game Night
Posted on: Friday March 13, 2015
Victory Lane Camp is planning a Game Night at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 20. The community is invited to the gymnasium at South Memorial Drive Church of God (3800 S. Memorial Drive, New Castle) to enjoy a family-friendly night of fun and games. Bring a favorite board game or an indoor version of a favorite camp game and a snack to share. “Our ‘Bounce into the New Year’ party on New Year’s Eve was a big hit, so we wanted to have another gathering of our Victory Lane Camp community,” said Tiffanny Youngquist, Assistant Director for Victory Lane Camp. “We’re always looking for ways to expand our community, so it would be great to see some new faces at this event.”
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Global Access Conference Update
Posted on: Wednesday March 4, 2015
Brett Fischer, Victory Lane Camp Founder, recently returned from a trip to the Global Access Conference where the theme was “Where Disabilities and Possibilities Meet.” Joni and Friends International Disability Ministry coordinated the conference and invited Fischer to share a presentation. Brett spoke on “Finding Hope in Nopeville,” and also represented Victory Lane Camp to disability ministry leaders from 50 countries. The premise of his presentation was that a solid biblical worldview lays the foundation for making wise medical technology decisions in this culture of Nopeville. “We live in a culture that creates excessive limitations on people with disabilities,” Brett noted. “In addition, our own choices as parents limit our children’s potential when it comes to using technology.” Fischer attended the conference with his 13-year-old son, Samuel. Featured speakers included renowned disability advocate Joni Eareckson Tada and Nick Vujicic of Life without Limbs. “I really enjoyed the community feel to the whole conference, and I enjoyed watching every session being interpreted through American Sign Language,” said Samuel. The two built networking connections with international ministries such as Young Life-Capernaum and Joni and Friends: Family Retreats. “God cares deeply about people facing disabilities and those parents who raise children with disabilities,” Brett expressed. “There is international momentum toward disability ministry in the 21st century, and it is exciting that Victory Lane Camp is positioning itself to continue to make a huge impact on Henry County Indiana and beyond.”
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Camp Was Just the Start
Posted on: Sunday February 8, 2015
Doug and Brenda Miller were part of planning and preparing the inaugural Victory Lane Camp week in 2013. The same year, they attended with sons Luke and Connor as one of the first Victory Families. “I was focused on the planning, and didn’t think of how much we would benefit as a family,” Brenda noted. “Meeting the other families was great. It was nice to meet people with similar situations.” The Millers’ involvement with Victory Lane Camp began after getting to know Camp Founder Brett Fischer, who serves as Luke’s physical therapist. Brett started working with Luke at age four, and the Millers and Fischer's became friends through this connection. Camp helped the Millers’ church relate with their family and understand their challenges better. During the 2014 camp, several people from the Millers’ church volunteered to serve during camp week. Although the Millers already had connections with several of the families before attending camp, these relationships were enriched during camp week. “Camp was just the start,” said Brenda. “The vision is much bigger.”
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I'm That Mom
Posted on: Wednesday December 31, 2015
By Stacia Guarisco I’m that mom. You know, the one who doesn’t want her kids inundated with society’s “all about me” philosophy. I’m the one who desires servant hearts in each of her children. I want my children to be grateful and humble following the words of 1 Samuel 12:24 “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” Not only that, but I’m the mom who wants empathy to flow forth; evident in her children’s actions. I want my children to see others in need and have a true empathetic desire to serve. Yes, this can be accomplished through the little things, like assisting the older woman with her groceries. It’s difficult even then to remove your child from the “all about me” culture. That’s why I’m the mom who wants her kids to experience a mission trip. I want them to experience true need and true service. The average overseas mission trip, though can cost thousands of dollars and between the Cross Country meets, Football games, Youth Group Retreats, etc. the time it takes to raise this money for the mission, is not feasible for our family. Also, though excellent and certainly fulfilling of the great commission, this type of mission doesn’t seem to exhibit a need in my children’s everyday lives. After the trip kids often return home remembering the need elsewhere but unable to recognize need in their own community fostering a false philosophy of service. As Doug Bannister writes in Christianity Today, “Some well-meaning Christians have a theology of mission that seeks to alleviate the spiritual and physical suffering of people far away, but pays little attention to needs here at home.” I’m the mom who wants her kids to have an eye for need in those around them regardless of who they are. Sitting in church on Sunday God showed me an affordable mission trip in my own back yard; Victory Lane Camp. At Victory Lane Camp my children can serve families of children with disabilities. My children will be trained in service; equipped with skills to continue serving beyond the camp. My kids will experience a humbling as those around them overcome obstacles they have never known. I’m the mom who wants her kids to grow at Victory Lane Camp. Interested in learning more about a Backyard Mission Trip? Click Here Referenced in this article: Bannister, Doug. Rethinking the 3,000 Dollar Missions Trip", Christianity Today. 23 June 2013.
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Victory Lane Camp on Moody Radio
Posted on: Friday October 10, 2014
Brett Fisher had a chance to talk about Victory Lane Camp with Kelli Thompson on WGNR's morning program 'New Day', and you can listen to that interview now.
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Mason's New Ramp
Posted on: Thursday May 29, 2014
Victory Lane Camp wants to let you know about an amazing way your donations have empowered and equipped a family this month. Mason and his family struggled through this past winter pulling his wheelchair up a set of steps to get into his house. With God’s grace and through your generous support of Victory Lane Camp, Mason and his family now have a remodeled deck equipped to get in and out of their home. Check out the video below to see the before and after shots of his ramp. Thank you for helping Empower and Equip Families!
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501c3 Approved Non Profit Organization
Posted on: Tuesday May 27, 2014
501c3 Non Profit Approval! Victory Lane Camp is celebrating the news that our 501c3 has been approved! The IRS back dated our approval to April of 2012. EVERY donation since April of 2012 is tax-deductible! This would not have been possible without the grace and glory of God. We thank Him for this wonderful news! And Thank You for Empowering and Equipping Families!
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Serve Indiana Newsletter
Posted on: Tuesday May 27, 2014
Victory Lane Camp's Backyard Mission Trip was featured in Serve Indiana's May 2014 Newsletter! Check out the article below. Many families are planning their summer vacation. Some will enjoy the water, the sun, and the great outdoors. Others will sit beside a campfire and tell stories. But a few will experience all of that AND add volunteer service at Victory Lane Camp held at Cornerstone Campground in Henry County. Victory Lane Camp is a camp designed to meet the needs of families with special needs children. Pediatric Physical Therapist and Butler University graduate, Brett Fischer, has created an opportunity for families with special needs children to camp together while being equipped and empowered to meet the demands that challenge them every day. Opportunities are available for you and your family to help these families by vacationing alongside and serving them – Vacation With a Purpose. For more information follow this link.
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Posted on: Saturday March 29, 2014
Growing up, card table puzzles were one way we, as a family, would pass away the rainy and cold days of winter. We would even have friendly sibling competitions to see who could put their puzzle together the fastest. Solving puzzles can bring a sense of accomplishment while challenging the mind to explore systems of colors, shapes within the context of a bigger picture. Puzzles are a good metaphor on life. We can go through our day and frantically try to figure out how to solve the next problem, resolve the next relational tension or make the next business decision. Or we can trust the process to our God’s Puzzling Grace of building relationships and extending us His joy, creatively. We can stop, pray and trust our God who knows best how to complete the puzzle of our life. However, it is our choice to stop, pray and trust. Earlier today I needed to pick up something from the hardware store and drop something off on the other side of the county. I stopped and prayed because I didn’t have the time to drive across county. In addition to my apparent dilemma, I also had been trying to get a hold of a friend on his new cell phone. On the way to the hardware store, I decided to stop by his house. He was home and I was able to help him fix his cell phone (Those who know me realize there was an extra measure of God’s grace involved here). After helping him reset his phone, temporarily interrupted by his 3 year old granddaughter, I realized he was traveling right by my location on the other side of the county. In addition, he had the very thing at his house that I was going to pick up at the hardware store. Puzzles are not difficult for a Sovereign God. His desire is to care for His children and help them meet their needs with His Grace. He sees the big picture of your life. He sees and knows how to accomplish your goals better than you do. Share with us your story of Puzzling Grace. You may be surprised how God uses your story to encourage someone else as the “final piece” of their puzzle.
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Movie's with Max
Posted on: Saturday February 22, 2014
Emily Colson and Brett Fischer were interviewed recently on Generous Life radio. Hear Emily share her story of taking Max to the movie theater over the christmas holiday season. You won't believe what took place. And then hear how Victory Lane Camp is ramping up for their 2014 camping season. Victory Lane Camp is making a kingdom difference in the community of families facing a disability. You will want to listen to the end and take advantage of the special offer from Emily and Max. Follow the link below and listen. http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/generous-life-radio/player/movies-with-max-393479.html
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Drifted in Grace
Posted on: Wednesday January 29, 2014
“Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow. It won’t be long before we’ll all be there with snow.” One of my wife’s favorite movies is White Christmas and each year we love to watch it while wrapping gifts. If you live in the Midwest, you’ve realized that this winter has been brutally cold with lots of “Snow.” It has been colder than usual and whiter than usual and when you live out in the country like we do, it has been “drifted” more than usual also. Three inches of snow can easily turn into four foot high drifts. Saturday morning I was driving into meet with some board members for this summer’s camp planning. And as the drifts met my vehicle, I spun around and slid off the road and rested into a 4 foot drift. I was stuck alone and isolated on the side of the road. Twenty minutes later, the friend I called arrived with a cup of coffee and we waited together for another friend to come pull my vehicle out of the drift. It was a powerful moment of thankfulness and a poignant reminder of why Victory Lane Camp exists. Life comes at us fast. And if we don’t slow down, there is likely a spin off and a ditch waiting to stop us. Many of the families we serve are spinning in “life out of control” and often end up in a 4 foot snow drift. Every week a new drift appears and they are stuck once again. Stuck in financial pressure, sibling’s needs, daily reminders of limited progress in their child’s goals in therapy, stuck in marriage tension, waiting and more waiting, but for what. Is there any hope? Does anyone understand? Jon Acuff says, "The unstuck are unstoppable." And at Victory Lane Camp we agree. We exist to get the stuck families of children with special needs, unstuck. We are here to train a community toward bringing a cup of coffee to a family while they wait for more help. Victory Lane Camp is here to help families see God in the ‘drifted’ moments of life. To know God’s grace is available to pull you out of a drift and to place your tires on the road again. Tell us your story of how someone has shown you grace when you were “Drifted in.”
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Grace in Action
Posted on: Tuesday January 7, 2014
This past week I’ve had time to read, reflect on 2013, pray and plan for the 2014 calendar year. During this time, I read a testimony of “Grace in Action” that has confirmed my call to lead Victory Lane Camp in 2014. Author and speaker, Emily Colson, has become a new friend to Victory Lane Camp since speaking at our banquet last November. She is a grace-filled mom and an amazing communicator about her joys and struggles of raising her son Max, who has autism. In this article linked here, you will see how Emily was an encouraging witness of grace amidst a jeering movie theater crowd that demonstrated discouraging cultural darkness. http://specialneedsparenting.net/darkness-theater/ When I read this article, it emboldened my desire to empower and equip families. Not just families of children with special needs, but families in every community. Families and communities can learn how to adapt to the needs of children with sensory limitations. When you live in community, you learn these subtle adaptations are minor adjustments that can make the whole community function better together. If a compassionate community would have allowed Max to make the transition through the previews and into the movie, I guarantee the whole movie theater would have enjoyed the movie more by Max’s presence. We are already gaining momentum toward our 2014 Camping Season. As you are planning your 2014 vacations, would you be willing to pray about spending one week at Victory Lane Camp. You, your family and your community will never be the same.
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Giggles of Grace
Posted on: Friday January 3, 2014
Looking back on 2013, did you ever feel like life was out of balance? You and your spouse run here and there and your communication seems more transactional or argumentative than nurturing and caring. Your finances are a weekly reminder of the pain of “not enough” in many areas. Your time is being stripped away by the diaper change of a child that should have been potty trained years ago, but because of their limitations, never will. Or you know the behavioral outbursts of your school age child are communicating some need, but you cannot figure out what they are trying to tell you. How can you achieve balance in 2014? At the beginning of the school year, I took my two youngest to school and dropped them off for their first day. As I placed their oversized, overstuffed back packs on their backs they proceeded to stumble around to the left, then three steps to the right. They would teeter forward a couple of steps and then toddle two steps back. The whole time the two children beamed with joy and giggles. Smiles overflowed from their souls. I was able to take a photo as they regained their balance for a brief moment before the balancing act continued. Giggles of Grace covered their faces. As I reflected on this moment, I realized these children found an answer that we often lose as adults. Laughter and joy are good medicine amidst the challenging balancing acts of life. When life takes us too far one way, laugh and regain balance. When you’re not sure how your finances are going to stretch through the end of the week, choose to smile and place your trust in the God who is your Provider and says, “I am enough.” When stress piles up and work overwhelms, choose to take a moment and laugh with your kids. If the struggle of infertility limits this possibility, find a niece or nephew to bring a balanced perspective on life. In 2014, plan each week to spend time with each of your kids at their level of living: turn off the Television, play a game, rediscover the pure joy of how childhood giggles bring balance back to the heavy loaded backpacks we carry during life. Victory Lane Camp wants to empower and equip families of children with special needs to heal through their disability. Take a brief moment and write us your story of how the joy of a child balanced your life.
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Posted on: Friday December 13, 2013
There are times over the years that I’ve wanted to throw in the proverbial towel and change professions completely. Not because I don’t love what I do, but because I’m mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted – like many of the families I serve. I recognize, as a professional, I’m supposed to “keep it all together,” but the reality of life is I am a “whole” individual. I am a physical, emotional, relational, mental and spiritual being. There are days when I have a child fuss and cry during therapy sessions for the whole 60 minutes. And there are days, because of the child’s behavioral outbursts, they squeal or scream for 60 minutes straight. After 16 years of serving 6-10 families and their children per day, I’ve been able to physically, emotionally and mentally condition myself to “handle this” for 3-5 hours of a 10 hour day( before I need to take a break). However, just because you can “work through” something doesn’t change the impact it has on your “whole” being. Life is whole – it is not a fraction. I cannot compartmentalize my life and think one area doesn’t impact the others. And neither can the families Victory Lane Camp is serving. Attempting to compartmentalize one’s life is like saying one room of my house is on fire and I go on living in it ignoring the present reality of danger for the whole house. The grace endurance necessary to live a “whole life” is one of my motivations for blogging. If my insights and thoughts from life as a pediatric physical therapist can help one Dad engage differently with his son who just happens to have a disability, this blog has succeeded. If one marriage is saved because a couple begins to see their differences as strengths to help their child through their disability, Victory Lane Camp’s vision is being fulfilled. Grace endurance is the reality that life with a disability is a marathon race in which you are always training for and never finish. When individuals in a community come together and see the value of a child, the needs of a family and brings the grace of a Heavenly Father that is infinitely available to supply what everyone needs, hope is found. We would love to hear your comment on how you and your family build "Grace Endurance" into your lives!
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Posted on: Monday November 25, 2013
It’s a Holiday. Day to sleep in, right? Kids are slightly older now so I can actually sleep until my body wakes me up. Wrong Answer. Alarm clock in the room at my parent’s house is going off at 5am. Ouch. Of course, I turn it off quickly because the kids are sleeping on the floor nearby. I can fall quickly back to sleep and no one will awaken. Wrong Answer, again. I must have hit the snooze because a few minutes later I’m awakened by the sound of Interrupted Holiday. Life with children doesn’t go our way. Add a disability and you never know how a holiday is going to be interrupted. Interruptions could include trips to the ER, late night trips to your local store for batteries, hunting for the new box of medical equipment, or simply one more night of a child waking up with their unique style of grace. One more early morning wake up reminding you of your isolation from the rest of the world. Life has unexpected twists of joy or we can choose to wrestle with them in frustration. Even through the stresses of my life, I too often find myself complaining and struggling through the thoughts of “this is not what I wanted!” or “This is not how life is supposed to be.” Yet, God has a way of meeting us in moments like these. He can peak around the corner with a smile. He may give you a sound of reassurance that everything is going to be alright. These moments of Grace unplugged are trials that can lead us to the Savior who is speaking to us with His peace, comfort and hope and waiting for us to look toward Him. He simply says, “I am here, I am enough.” I couldn’t find the off switch in the dark on the alarm clock, so I felt the cord to the end and unplugged it. When life is full of unexpected darkness, I’m learning I have to feel through it, turn to God and unplug. This morning, now that I am awake, I’m praying for those families who are struggling through their trials of interruption. My prayer is simple: May the God, who reveals Himself, meet you in your moment of need with His grace unplugged. Share with us your comments of “Grace Unplugged.” How has God interrupted your life with moments of unexpected trials that have led to seeing a glimpse of His grace?
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Compassionate Feet of Waiting Grace
Posted on: Sunday November 24, 2013
During our first annual Fundraising Banquet, Emily Colson shared an experience after bringing her son Max (diagnosed with Autism) to the grocery store for the first time. At first while shopping, Max was doing great, handling the “newness” of this “grocery world” without difficulty. However, as they approached the checkout lanes his sensory level reached its maximum input. Lights, Sounds, Colors, Waiting in lines and too many choices overwhelmed Max’s sensory system and he ended up throwing a tantrum because he couldn’t process all the new information he was receiving. Kneeling beside her inconsolable son, she watched shopping carts strategically avoid the scene. She remained paralyzed with emotion, uncertainty and hopelessness until some “compassionate feet of waiting grace” appeared. A helpful neighbor, who was willing to stand by and say, “I will wait until you can think of how I can help.” One week after our first banquet, this true story from Emily and Max’s life is replaying over and over in my mind. One of our passions at Victory Lane Camp is to empower and equip communities of individuals who understand and will choose to act in situations just like this. During our Vacation with a Purpose, we invite community organizations and churches to be “compassionate feet of waiting grace” who will respond to the needs of families of children with disabilities when they return back home. What are you doing for vacation next summer, why don’t you make it a life transforming experience for you, your children and the families with special needs in your community? We would love to hear your story of Compassionate Feet of waiting Grace that you have experienced from a family member or stranger.
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U.S. Business News Daily Article
Posted on: Wednesday November 20, 2013
http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5491-how-to-start-nonprofit.html by Nicole Fallon, BusinessNewsDaily Staff Writer | November 20, 2013 09:30am ET In the world of entrepreneurship, there are generally two types of businesses one can start: a sales-driven for-profit company whose proceeds benefit the business owners, or a nonprofit company whose proceeds benefit a greater social mission. If you're passionate about a certain cause and want to start a business to support it, a nonprofit organization may be the right path for you. There are plenty of benefits to running a nonprofit business. Besides making a meaningful difference in your community, you can receive public and private donations to fund your efforts and be tax-exempt if you file for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. But incorporating a nonprofit isn't quite the same as launching a for-profit startup, and like any business, it will present some challenges along the way. The Vision Group, founded by Mike Stickler, is an organization that helps other nonprofits get started. With the help of The Vision Group, pediatric physical therapist Brett Fischer founded Victory Lane Camp, an organization that offers a "vacation with a purpose" for children with disabilities and their families. As successful founders of nonprofits, Stickler and Fischer know what it takes to get this type of business off the ground. They shared their experiences and tips to help fellow do-gooders start their own nonprofit organizations. [Why Nonprofits Are Viewed Differently Than For-Profits] Turn your idea into a vision As with all startups, the first thing you need for a successful nonprofit business is a great idea. Once you have that idea in place, you need to figure out how to make it a reality. "When you're starting a nonprofit, you have to move from an idea and a mission to a vision," Stickler told BusinessNewsDaily. "Without finances, you can't really get there." In startup planning, a vision statement is often used to outline a company's long-term future goals, while a business plan describes how the company is going to achieve them. You'll need both in order to get your nonprofit started. Apply for nonprofit status as soon as possible If you're planning to apply for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status, Stickler recommended filling out your application as soon as possible, since it can take up to two years to get approved. He also advised seeking legal help, but to be very careful in selecting an attorney to work with. "Find out how many nonprofits the attorney has helped in the past," Stickler said. "A lot of them have never done it before." Develop your brand Your nonprofit organization could be the most brilliant, life-changing idea in the world, but unless you take the time to develop a relatable, cohesive brand that people will care about, you won't get very far. The process of laying this foundation for Victory Lane Camp was one of the organization's biggest challenges. "Our concept of incorporating the child's rehab needs and equipping their parents in a camp setting is a new idea," Fischer said. "Helping listeners grasp all the facets of what we are doing is difficult, which is why we have built 'vacation with a purpose' into the camp as our brand." Build a great board Your board is going to be your team of go-to people for all fundraising, support and outreach efforts for your nonprofit organization. Many nonprofits start off with an incorporator board of the founder's family and friends. As your organization gets off the ground, you may want to turn to some professional contacts who understand entrepreneurship and running a business to serve on your board, said Stickler. Be prepared to show results One of the most consistent issues facing a nonprofit is resources. In a for-profit business, investors will give money because they expect a return. Securing funds for a nonprofit is a little bit trickier, but "selling" it the same way as a for-profit can be helpful. "When you're looking for supporters and major donors, the approach should be similar to investing in a for-profit business," Stickler said. "Their return on investment is changed lives. They'll give readily to your organization if they can see that ROI." Don't give up when it gets tough Nonprofits face just as many, if not more, challenges than for-profit businesses, and it's important to not get discouraged if things are taking longer than expected, or if you don't receive the overwhelming support you had hoped for. "Criticism will come, but do not let anyone's thoughts or impatience in getting off the ground stop you, especially your own," Fischer said. "People of excellence rise to the top and are drawn to great causes, so keep casting your vision and trust that the people will come." For more information on starting a nonprofit organization, visit theSmall Business Administration website. Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily. Editors Picks Nonprofits Drive Big Job Creation Are Nonprofit Donors Turned Off by Highly Paid Execs? Small Business Owners See Value of Social Responsibility
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Courier Times Article
Posted on: Monday November 18, 2013
http://www.thecouriertimes.com/main.asp?SectionID=23&SubSectionID=45&ArticleID=284327 11/18/2013 8:45:00 AM Victory Lane Camps organizer realizing his prayers By SARA GEER Cornerstone Campground will serve as a resource for families with children with disabilities next summer in what is believed to be the first official start for Victory Lane Camps. Brett Fischer, the organizer and creator of Victory Lane Camps, told a packed room Friday night at First Baptist Church that his vision for the camp has been a seven-year process. "Looking back there is only one God who could providentially orchestrate seven years of prayers, sleepless nights and 'there has got to be a better way,'" Fischer said. "I'd like to foremost thank Him for what he is doing in our community." Fischer said the creation of Victory Lane Camps comes from spending 16 years working as a pediatric physical therapist trying to come up with creative ways to motivate his patients toward their rehab goal. The camp is instructed to not only care for the disability individual, but to refresh the entire family traveling the same stressful journey. "Living with a disability is a constant, visible reminder of our human frailty," Fischer said. "The truth is we are frail in every aspect of this image of God. This camp is designed for them to find some peace in their lives." Guest speaker and author Emily Colson, mother of Max, a 22-year old struggling with autism, understands the everyday challenges involved with caring for a disability child. Colson wrote the book "Dancing with Max." "I became a single parent when Max was just 18 months old and we went through a period that was very difficult," Colson said. "I was holding on by a thread." A decision to break free from despair helped her to see what Max has to offer to the rest of the world. "What I discovered is that not that Max learned how to navigate the community but that he could powerfully impact the world around him," Colson said. "And people stepped out of their comfort zone and did kind things that they probably didn't know they were capable of doing. And I saw him bring out the very best in people." Colson offered to speak at Friday's fundraising banquet after hearing that Fischer had taken the Centurion Program through BreakPoint, a Christian nationwide worldview ministry. Emily's father, Chuck Colson, founded the ministry. Colson agreed the camp is needed for the New Castle area. It is good for participating families and volunteers. "It's also a gift to those who serve as volunteers at the camp. It's really important for people to understand to be inspired to step up and help," Colson said. "So anyone interested should really be brave enough to be blessed because people will be greatly surprised at the experience. There is nothing scary about this." Fischer said anyone inspired to help by donating or volunteering at Victory Lane Camps can check out the Victory Lane Camp website at victorylanecamps.org. "For many of you the journey with Victory Lane Camps begins right now," Fisher said. "God wants to raise our faith in him to make this camp a success in our community." Sara Geer is a staff writer for The Courier-Times. Follow her on Twitter@s_kovach.
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Little Pie with Grace Filling
Posted on: Tuesday October 29, 2013
The simplicity of a child is often beautiful and picturesque. And their generosity can be humbling and deeply profound. I was reminded of this recently while working with an Amish family. In the midst of the treatment session, one of the siblings came with a “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.” As she handed it to me, she said, “Little Pie.” I smiled and said “thank you” and placed it in my pocket. (I’m not a big fan of peanut butter cups). A moment went by as the other siblings came in and they sat opening up their “Little Pies” and asked me why I wasn’t eating mine. Without hesitation, I pulled the miniature chocolate and peanut butter pie out, unwrapped it, and we all shared our “little pies” together. With the brush strokes of a child’s gift, the moment painted a forever picture in my mind of the invitation to grace, generous fellowship and sacrificial giving. Let’s look at another little child who gave all he had to Jesus one day. 8Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. Is it possible the miracle of this boy’s gift was more than feeding 5000 people? I’m beginning to understand the beauty of this Amish child’s gift is the same as the boy in Jesus’s miracle. On the surface, the gifts were simply food. However, a different type of miracle takes place when we share something together. You see I placed the Reese’s Cup in my pocket (for later) and was gently re-invited to share the moment with the children. I now realize the gift was “true” community and fellowship – not just a snack. How often do we view the gifts we receive or give as a transaction instead of an invitation to fellowship? The truth is Jesus invites us to fellowship with His grace throughout each day. He offers us an invitation to commune with Him as the Giver of Life. Am I the only one that is so rushed in life that I miss the fellowship of sharing “Little Pies” as the moments of life go by? Will you pause with me this week and rethink your day around opportunities of fellowship with those who generously and sacrificially give their “Little Pies” filled with the invitation to grace?
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Posted on: Wednesday October 23, 2013
Well, I awoke again in the middle of the night and spent some time in prayer with Our Sovereign King. It was an encouraging time, in what seems at times an insurmountable future. We are reading in BSF how the angel spoke to Mary and the Holy Spirit came upon her. The questions took me to Genesis 1:2 and John 3:6. In Genesis 1:2 shows where the Spirit of God is hovering over the darkness of a “new beginning.” John 3:6 Flesh gives birth to flesh and Spirit gives birth to Spirit. These two passages together pulled my mind to start thinking about how the Spirit of God is hovering over the new beginnings of this ministry. He sees the areas that are forming when my eyes have yet to see light. The Spirit knows the questions and wonderings of my heart, when my mind cannot comprehend my present circumstances. He is molding my leadership, my time and my attitude around trusting the Potters hand as he is remolding my life around the created imagination of what He wants Victory Lane Camp to become. He knows. He sees. He can feel the formation take place. The Spirit gives birth. All too often on this journey, I’m afraid I get in the way. I’m learning the balance of letting go and letting God as I learn to lead. Since the Spirit giving birth to the Spirit is the positive, then flesh giving birth to flesh can be viewed as the negative. Man can create some pretty imaginative things, but if God is not in it then it has the tendency to become the focal point of everything Man does. And when this is the motivation and purpose, the end is already here. For this reason, I am asking the Spirit of God to hover, moment by moment, over my life as a leader so that I always remember that He is giving birth to this ministry – not me.
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Speak Up with Grace
Posted on: Friday October 18, 2013
Proverbs 31:8 challenges us to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Victory Lane Camp’s vision includes this Speaking Up we are called to do. It is hard understanding the limitations a disability places on time, money and relationships when you don’t have a child with a disability in your home. It has been interesting watching the ministry of Victory Lane Camp take flight, because many people want to run and tell their neighbors who have a child with a disability about our Camp. Many people want to hand a business card about our “High Five Crew” and give it to a family in need. My call is to help the communities and churches of America see that our neighbors need our help. These families need a friend, a community that cares and most importantly hope. The burden is too great. The emotional load and time crunch created by a child with a disability goes beyond their physical limitation. The community is the one who needs to hear the Vision of Victory Lane Camp in addition to the families. This is why we have created “Vacation with a Purpose.” You, your small group at church, and/or your whole church can come to Victory Lane Camp and participate in the CampProgramming and live life together with families with disabilities. You share their schedule. You experience their child’s therapy sessions. You embrace their hope and potential to contribute back to society in ways that often go unnoticed. After a week at Victory Lane Camp, we see communities embracing, engaging and encouraging families of children with disabilities toward hope. Will you take a moment and begin listening to the hearts and desires of families in your own communities? They need the hope you have to offer through your gift of time, talents and treasure. http://victorylanecamp.org/donate/ Allow Victory Lane Camp to Empower and Equip you to share your hope with them. Speak up with Grace for a family of a child with a disability.
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Fundraising Banquet Speaker Set for November 15th
Posted on: Friday October 11, 2013
Emily Colson will be our special guest speaker Friday, November 15, 2013, at the Victory Lane Camp Fundraising Banquet to be held at New Castle First Baptist Church. Are you passionately willing to generously support our vision of empowering and equipping families with special needs children? You won't want to miss Emily's passion for life and her son, Max. And we want you there! [caption id="attachment_780" align="alignleft" width="276"] Max and Emily Colson[/caption] Emily is an author, speaker and advocate. Emily speaks to churches and organizations nationwide, and has appeared on numerous media outlets including Focus on the Family and the Huckabee show. In her book Dancing with Max. Emily and her father, Chuck Colson, share the struggle and beauty of life with Max, Emily’s 22 year-old son with autism. The book has recently been awarded “Book of the Year” by the Autism Society. Through her message, Emily has inspired many to persevere through their own challenges and see the gifts. Emily has been a single mother for most of Max’s 22 years, with hard fought lessons in life, love and a whole lot of laughter. Emily and Max live on the coast of New England where they can often be found dancing. If you are interested in hosting a table for the banquet, please Contact Us Today! for more details on how you can help.
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Posted on: Tuesday October 1, 2013
Radio Interview! Hey Everyone, Check this link out to our first Radio Interview. We are excited about what God is doing at Victory Lane Camp and want to share it with as many people as we can. Generosity With Special Needs - Listen Here! After you listen to the Radio Interview, leave a response and let us know your thoughts. Thanks for helping to Empower and Equip Families, Brett
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2nd Annual Chili Cook Off
Posted on: Wednesday September 18, 2013
Do you think your Chili is the Best? Come Find Out! No cost to enter, but you must register your Chili by sending an email to Chili Cook Off Information and Questions. Once we determine the number of Chili Contestants, we will send individual instructions explaining the amount of Chili to bring. On October 12th from 5pm til 8pm at Cornerstone Campground in New Castle, Indiana. Spread the word! Download, print and pass along or email ourChili Cook Off Informational Flyer! Then be sure to come out and show your support for VICTORY LANE CAMP. For more questions about the CHILI COOK-OFF please click the link to email us Chili Cook Off Information and Questions. If for some reason your email browser does not open, just click here CONTACT US to use the online contact form.
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Posted on: Thursday September 12, 2013
The Victory Lane Camp Board of Directors wants to say "Thank You" to all the families, individuals, churches and businesses that helped make our Inaugural Victory Lane Camp a Huge Success this past summer. Over 20 families impacted; 1 God made it possible through Individuals from over 11 churches and 10 businesses and community organizations. Thank you, Dan Webb, Chairman of the Board of Directors
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Posted on: Monday September 9, 2013
Fear rushes in when you have to let go of security and stability. Often times you can see the look on a child’s face when this begins to happen. The face says it all but once trained you can start to anticipate this fear through other senses as well. When working with a child I often have my hands on their shoulders or trunk for support and I’m working from behind them in order to grade the amount of necessary support to provide, therefore, I don’t see their face. I’m basically supporting them in strategic places with my hands, wrists and forearms to protect them and also teach them how to hold their body up against gravity. When fear begins to set in the child tenses up in her muscles and before this fear gets too high, I will sing the ABC’s or make a funny distracting sound to keep her calm. This is one reason I love Fernando Ortega’s worship music so much. It appears that God knows when my muscles are getting tense. He understands me so well and feels my precarious position with His protecting touch. Interestingly enough, I don’t always perceive God’s presence until another sense kicks in like sound. I believe this is one reason God inspired the Psalmist like He did. God understands His created children so well that He knew that our senses were going to miss His presence and we were to become fearful. God created multiple senses so that when one of our senses missed His presence, He could use another one to step in and give us the security and stability of His grace – which is what we really need.
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Posted on: Friday September 6, 2013
Exploring this new concept of blogging for me will be a difficult, but hopefully rewarding one. Not because I don’t like to journal, but because I have conditioned myself over the years to be private. However, focusing within myself in this way, has limited people from really knowing who I am. So for me vulnerability is step of faith, a risk and a challenge. To allow the internet world to see the unfolding of God’s grace in my life is a little intimidating. For 16 years as a pediatric physical therapist it has become natural to help a child learn to take their first steps or to balance on hands and knees without falling. But to share in a “public way” my struggles, my fears, my doubts, my life at the risk of looking awkward like an unsteady child walking on a new unstable surface. In my line of work, falls happen along with scraped knees and bruised foreheads. And yet, step-by-step children learn to explore a new world. Anticipating many of figurative blogging scraped knees and bruises, here’s to my first step into the blogging world.
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