We wanted to update everyone on our most life changing summer.
To back track for a moment- our 8 year old son Nochy was given an incredible opportunity this past summer- the opportunity to go to Camp Simcha Special, a program of Chai Lifeline, in upstate New York. This is after having been diagnosed with a rare hip disease called Legg Calve Perthes Disease- about 18 months ago. This disease has left him wearing a double leg brace most of the day and needing a wheel chair and crutches to navigate most of his life at this point.
I’m going to jump to the end of my story first- we were slightly alarmed when we went to pick him up and for the next 48 hours our son could not stop crying. He cried and cried and cried- and oddly nothing could have made us happier.
Now let me explain why.
I would like to attempt to describe what it was like when we first walked into camp. We walked into this beautiful campground- and looked around in awe. There was a large pool with a water-slide and a lakefront area complete with speedboats, paddle boats, and spray bumper boats. There was a movie room, an arcade room, and a game room. Nochy told me he had finished off the Harry Potter series while at camp using the “huuuuge library.”
While there- as you can see from pictures on our fundraising website- Nochy heard concerts from famous Jewish singers and made a clay Kiddush cup from scratch. He climbed through this incredible tough mudder course (Watch a video of counselors carrying campers wheelchair bound through the course and I dare you not to tear up...) and was filled with mud from head to toe. He relaxed in the most ginormous hammocks I have ever seen and swam through a gymnasium filled with soap bubbles like in Willy Wonka. He was thrown into mosh pits of dancing boys and hit home runs in the most all inclusive baseball game ever.
But forget the physical space and activities for a moment- because here’s the part that I suspect was the main culprit for the tears that wouldn’t stop flowing…..
We couldn’t go more than five feet without someone coming over to greet Nochy. High fives, hugs, cheers, and special elaborate handshakes…… followed us everywhere.
We felt like our son was a rock star! And though to us he's always been- it seems like for these two weeks he was truly treated like one by everyone around him. He was surrounded by a sea of people who loved him and in that world of nothing but joy he love- he thrived.
Nochy had a one on one counselor. And then when he needed a break, there was a rotating counselor, and besides for these insanely devoted guys there was a sea of young men that seemed solely interested in making our son feel like royalty and giving him the ability to forget, even for two weeks, that was anything on his legs at all………
And so when we left that day his counselor cried , we cried, and Nochy cried. We were witness to some of the most touching and heart rendering hugs we had ever seen. And the tears kept coming for days to come.
The gift of Camp Simcha is something we hope all kids struggling with illness can have in their lives. I am up to running 18 mile training runs, 20 mile training runs, and its a challenge but nothing in comparison to what all of these kids face on a daily basis. As many of you may know, running has been such an important staple of my life that keeps me healthy, strong, and able to keep going through the good times and the bad. So putting running together with Chai Lifeline makes so much sense to me, since this is what they do for so many others, Nochy being one in a long line of hundreds if not thousands of other kids who have had their dreams come true at Camp Simcha.
If you’ve already donated- thank you and thank you again- and if not- please consider joining us in supporting Chai Lifeline with your donation, every dollar counts when it comes to making this happen, or consider passing this letter along to others.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts-
Zvi and Rachel Zimmerman