Change of Heart: Board President Builds Bonds

Don pic

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.