Andrew Offenburger remembers the first time his daughter, Lindsay, went to summer camp at Flying Horse Farms.
“My wife and I couldn’t relax,” he said. “We were so incredibly nervous because she had never been away from home for a week.”
After the 15-year-old came back from the camp and told her parents how magical it was to be around kids, who face similar health challenges, he and his wife breathed a joint sigh of relief.
Based in Morrow County, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, Flying Horse Farms invites children with illnesses and challenging medical conditions to simply enjoy being a kid for a week each summer at no charge to their families. Everything at the camp is designed so that all children, regardless of their medical conditions, can participate fully in camp activities.
“Now that we’ve all attended events there, we think of Flying Horse Farms as the glue that helps our family really stick together,” Andrew said.
The Offenburgers’ experience is similar to that of numerous families in Morrow County, which is why team members from our nearby Delaware, Ohio store chose the nonprofit as the recipient of its first-ever $5,000 donation as part of the Meijer Team Gives program.
Store Director Tony Newell said his team organized a committee of staff from every department to nominate organizations that were personally meaningful and made an impact in the community before holding a store-wide vote to choose the recipients. One of the team members nominated Flying Horse Farms based on their own experience with the organization.
“When we heard about everything they do for kids in the community, everyone was very happy to cast their vote for it,” Tony said.
It turns out, the contribution came at the perfect moment.
“The donation helped make camp possible by supporting camp operations as we returned from 2 years of postponed summer residential programming to host five diagnosis-specific residential camps this year,” said Rachel Escusa, External Relations Lead at Flying Horse Farms. “We welcomed hundreds of children with serious illnesses to camp this summer to have fun, be silly, laugh until their sides hurt, and experience a greater sense of belonging at camp.”
She said more than 20 campers from the Delaware County area, where our store is located, have attended camp so far this year, participating in activities that include swimming, fishing, shooting arrows at a target or even zip lining across the lake. These shared activities help kids conquer fears, feel included and experience a greater sense of belonging.
Andrew said that his entire family – which includes sisters Casey, 11, and Audrey, 7, – is beyond grateful. With Family Camp Weekends coming up in October, the Offenburgers are all looking forward to attending thanks to donations like the one from our Delaware store.
“My wife says it’s a vacation away from everything, and our version of going to an amusement park,” Andrew said with a smile. “There may not be any crazy rides, but everyone is so phenomenal that we all feel part of something that didn’t exist before [Lindsay’s] first summer camp experience. Now we feel like we are part of a community.”