Burn survivors' camp nearly cancelled by Tropical Storm Debby

By Dave D'Marko, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, August 02, 2012, 6:38 AM EDT
MORE INFO

They dance and play sports like other children their age, but each one had a traumatic event in their lives that left them with scars both emotionally and physically.

Wednesday was the seven-year anniversary of the day Matthew Manchester became a burn survivor.

"We were burning debris and something exploded, we don’t know what it was,” the 16-year-old said.

Camp Amigo, the annual camp for North and Central Florida burn survivors, almost didn't happen.

“We had 46 kids en-route, about hour and a half out, and the storm was not relenting and we made the call to shut down camp,” said Camp Coordinator Rusty Roberts, recalling the ordeal when Tropical Storm Debby washed out Camp Amigo’s home in the Florida panhandle.

“It was really sad my parents cried,” said camper Reina Smith.

They cried because they knew how much the camp had meant to the 14-year-old who was burned on her arms and legs in a house fire.

“I used to wear jeans and jackets every single day. I think if I didn’t start going to the camp, I would still wear long sleeves,” said Smith.

The event that usually takes a year to plan came together in just a month.

Firefighters from around the area helped turn Marion County’s 4H Center in the Ocala National Forest into the perfect venue for kayaking and other fun at a local water park.

“A lot of people don’t understand how firefighters are, we are a brotherhood, we look out for one another,” Roberts said.

You can donate to the Children’s Burn Camp of North Florida here.