When Tim Ernst’s sister Margaret passed away he knew he wanted to honor her dedication to her daughter Madeline who lives with a disability.
He combined his love of biking and his passion for giving children the opportunity to experience summer camp to establish the Margaret M. Ernst Campership Fund. Tim decided to bike the Erie Canal to raise funds so people with disabilities like Madeline can experience the joy of Easterseals Camp Fairlee, one of the only facilities in the region that provides a typical residential, summer camp experience for children and adults with disabilities.
“I wanted to make my trip along the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany more than just a bike trip. I wanted to honor my sister,” Tim said. “Camp was a formative part of my life where I learned new skills like canoeing, sailing and archery. I also learned how to get along with others and make new friends for a lifetime. I asked people to donate in Margaret’s memory to send children to summer camp so they could have the same experience I had.”
When Madeline was born with disabilities, her mother Margaret left her career to fight tirelessly for the rights of people with disabilities. Tim said Madeline is a shining ray of hope in this world and he is proud to give children like her the opportunity to attend Camp Fairlee. His neighbor, Gabriela “Gg” Woodward, has muscular dystrophy and has attended Camp Fairlee for three years.
“Camp has given me a stronger sense of independence,” Gg said. “It is nice to meet other kids like you. I don’t meet many kids at school that are like me. It is great to be able to talk to people that understand you and have similar experiences. I know I won’t run into any accessibility issues at Camp Fairlee.”
Easterseals Camp Fairlee is an unforgettable experience for people of all ages with disabilities. During a typical summer camp session campers enjoy activities including horseback riding, walking nature trails, zip lining, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, arts and crafts, fishing and more.
While campers rely on Camp Fairlee for adventure and independence in a nurturing and supportive environment, parents and caregivers who are looking for respite care depend on Camp Fairlee for high quality, professional services. Each year counselors receive intensive training to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the campers.
“It is amazing how safe Gg is at Camp. We were nervous that we weren’t there to help her but when we dropped her off at Camp Fairlee we recognize everyone is trained. Camp Fairlee is a great opportunity to give kids a chance to do something they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” said Gg’s father Brian. “Tim understands the importance of camp. His idea to set up a fund for people to go to camp just shows what type of person he is.”
To donate to the Margaret M. Ernst Campership Fund and give a child or adult with a disability the opportunity to experience Camp Fairlee, contact Easterseals development department at 302-324-4444.