|Natalie Hewison with First Student Pincher Creek boosters|
Natalie Hewison is a normal nine year old girl. She likes to read, play games, and have fun with her friends. She has four brothers, and a sister. There is one thing a little different about Natalie. She is is in stage 4 of kidney disease, and will eventually need a kidney transplant. Her kidneys are currently functioning at 17%, a great improvement since April when she dipped to a 13% functionality. This means that this girl that wants to do the things every other kid does has to balance her life with medications, growth hormones, catheters and the constant exhaustion of a body that is not functioning at it's best.
Natalie's mother Vicki Hewison works as a driver for First Student in Pincher Creek, and when one of her co-workers Cherylanne Nazarek found out the cost to send Natalie to Camp Horizon Kidney Camp two years ago, she encouraged all the bus drivers to save their empty cans and bottles to offset the cost. This year the drivers and others have continued with their own personal bottle drive and presented Natalie with $1,113.60 to go to camp again this summer. Kidney Camp at Camp Horizon will run from August 16-21 and is fully equipped to handle all the special needs Natalie and other children with kidney disease between the ages of 7-17 may face.
Natalie was very excited that she can go to camp again. She spoke of the programs that Camp Horizon ran last year, and how she got to do a things like swimming, kayaking, zip lining, archery, and crafts during the 5 days she was there. Something very special is that during the last day of Kidney Camp the childrens' Doctors are invited to attend. This lets the kids mingle with their caregivers in a friendly atmosphere and create a different more personable bond with each other. Natalie is excited to make new friends and meet with friends that she went to camp with last year.
Both Natalie and and her mother Vicki were both grateful. Natalie for the chance to go to camp, Vicki for her daughter to have to opportunity to go to camp during the summer with the knowledge she is in a situation where she can be away from home with professional health care on site. Vicki normally manages much of Natalie's health regime, which includes 15 pills daily and an injection, along with catheters and bags. "This gives her time away from home," Vicki sees this as an important step for her daughters development and independence. "I really appreciate how all the drivers, and others have jumped in to help."
The camp is held in partnership with Alberta Easter Seals, The Nephrology Department at the Alberta Children's Hospital, and Stollery Children's Hospital at Camp Horizon close to Bragg Creek.
"It's a lot of money." said Natalie as she held the $453 dollars that she was presented with, the last installment of the drivers' donations. "Now I know I can go back,"
Related link: www.easterseals.ab.ca/campsite/Programs/CampSchedules.aspx