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Youth-in-Action Star: Jake Nelson
Hometown: Sylvania, OH
Giving Achievement: As part of earning his Eagle rank, the highest achievement in Boy Scouts, Jake planned, managed and built 24 benches and four picnic tables for North Star Reach. An ambitious community service project even by demanding Boy Scout standards, Jake and his supporters logged in more than 240 hours to complete his project.
Jake knew for years that he wanted to give back to a place that had enabled him to attend a camp for kids just like him. When he was a patient in 2007 at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital undergoing treatment for a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, he and his family first heard about North Star Reach. Even though camp in Pinckney wasn’t built, Jake was invited to attend another camp within SeriousFun Children’s Network (SFCN), Victory Junction in North Carolina. His plane fare, the week at camp, food and lodging—all costs were covered by North Star Reach as part of a program called “Camp on the Move.” Still, leaving home for a week wasn’t an easy decision. “I was pretty intimated,” he says. “I had to be convinced to go.”
He loved camp so much he went back five more years, until he no longer met the age requirements for campers. “It was life changing,” says his mom.
“I know a lot of people say camp is a magical experience, but it truly is,” says Jake. “Being away from home, making new friends, creating memories that will last forever. It just feels like a second home.”
Late last summer, Jake delivered his gift to camp. Driving up from Toledo, his parents rented a 12-foot trailer to transport the benches and tables, which will be used in many activity areas, including the arts and craft building, waterfront, and archery. “It was a long time in the making,” says Jake, who hopes to return to camp as a program volunteer when he’s 19. “I’m just glad I could give back.”
Giving Lesson Learned: Jake kicked off his project a year ago by fundraising to cover the costs for supplies, including wood, paint and screws. Once the project was underway, he modified an existing design, maintained cost reports, and successfully recruited dozen of family members, friends, neighbors and scouts to help build the tables and benches. “I was surprised how it felt to take on a project that’s all on you,” he says. “Every question, every design decision, it’s always you. It’s very challenging to stay organized and keep calm throughout everything….It was very cool when we dropped them off. I got to look around and see camp for the first time. It was really rewarding to see where they would go.”
We’re very grateful to all the supporters who joined us in early March for two successful fundraising events: Fowling at the Warehouse and Hockey Night in Brighton. Our event summaries below share all the details.
March 3: Fowling at the Warehouse
We’re so thankful to the more than 115 people who made this month’s Fowling at the Warehouse such a big success, netting enough to fund three camperships!
The wonderful turnout, combined with the underwriting of the event provided by our hosts, NSR Board Member Stephanie Amaimo and her husband Justin, helped raise enough to send three kids who are facing life-changing health challenges to camp this summer!
A highlight of the event was a testimonial by Stephanie’s sister, Laura Jackson, who shared her personal experience of going from the hospital–where doctors and nurses cautioned her that her paralysis would preclude her from many of her favorite activities–to camp, where she learned that, in spite of her limitations, she could enjoy camp as much as any other kid. She even rode horseback for the first time in her life! Stephanie and Laura’s parents, Melody and Daryl Jackson, were also on hand to help pull off this first event of its kind for North Star Reach.
March 11: Hockey Night in Brighton
North Star Reach is honored to have been named a beneficiary of Hockey Night in Brighton, a fundraiser that celebrated its eighth year this March. The event pits The Well Church All-Stars–all sporting the number nine in honor of Red Wings legend Gordie Howe–against the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association team in a match at Brighton’s Kensington Valley Ice House that has been likened to contests between the Washington Generals and the Harlem Globetrotters.
North Star Reach was represented for the ceremonial puck drop that started the game by 9-year-old Aidan Troxtel and his parents, Erik and Stacey. Aidan, who received a kidney transplant just before his second birthday in 2010, was able to go to camp on his own for the first time when he turned 7 in 2015. He also attended Transplant Family Camp last October with his parents and is looking forward to going back to camp this summer.
Hockey Night fans enjoyed a spirited, if lopsided match, plus a halftime “puck chuck,” “bubble soccer,” and a Pee Wee shootout. After the game, VIP ticketholders assembled at Cornerstone Evangelical Church’s Celebration Center to bid on silent and live auction items. Aidan played a surprise role in the live auction when, with mom Stacey at his side, he encouraged the bidders higher with a big “thumbs-up.”
A big THANK YOU goes out to everyone who made this event a success, including the Troxtels; camp supporters Barb Binkley of Cooper & Binkley Jewelers and Steven Bearden (for identifying NSR as a beneficiary); ; event organizers Scott and Holly DesAutel; and NSR Board Members in attendance Steven Berger and Ebon Wilkins.