Howell High School’s Senior Survivor week raised $135000 for two charities, one of which is North Star Reach.
North Star Reach is a non-profit organization located in Pinckney, Michigan. This camp offers chances to kids battling life-threatening illness and health conditions for a camping experience full of fun and games, all for free. North Star Reach is one of the only camps in the Great Lakes area that has medical staff available for children with physical disabilities and other life-threatening illnesses.
“North Star Reach is all about community, belonging and growth. Camp is a place where kids who are typically seen as different, can come together and feel like they are known and valued for who they are, not just because they have a health challenge,” North Star Reach staff member, Patrick Smith, said.
North Star campers experience normalcy like kids at other camps. They often leave with higher self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment after attempting and completing challenges. These challenges are both physical and emotional and are overseen by medical supervision to ensure the campers are safe.
“North Star Reach has changed my son’s life in so many ways – he was a shy and timid child before camp. He never used to show his scar on his chest. After his first camp session – now he can’t keep it covered. He says, “Mom, I am not the only one that has a scar on my chest, there are others like me.” He cannot wait every year to go to camp to see his heart buddies,” a parent of one of the campers, Denise Liebzeit, said.
Operating year-round, North Star has a medical center, dining hall, cabins to house campers, staff, and counselors, nature trails, and many recreational areas for campers to enjoy, including swimming pools, archery ranges, and a sports field.
“At home, I have a lot of restrictions and I hear a lot of ‘no’s’ but at North Star Reach I do things that I cannot do at home. One of my favorite things I get to do at camp is canoeing. I am so thankful for North Star Reach for giving me a little bit of normality and for letting me just be a kid,” camper Abby explains.
Since North Star is a non-profit organization, much funding comes from donations from other organizations, fundraisers, and patrons. HHS is now one of these donors. All donations go directly to funding the camp’s activities, supplies, maintenance, and other requirements.
“I’m extremely grateful that such passionate, caring, and thoughtful kids want to give to an organization that is so dear to my heart. I nearly jumped out of my chair in excitement when we found out,” Michael Parker, a North Star volunteer, said.
The Survivors expressed their excitement throughout the week. The cheering, hugging, and crying as the total amount raised was revealed proved how much these seniors care about these charities.
“I have a cousin, he has a mental disability. So, I thought to myself, like, if my cousin had the opportunity to go to that kind of camp, it would be awesome for him to, like, make friends with kids who struggle to fit into the normal world, you know. It’s an amazing opportunity for those kids,” Darko Stavrev, Team DNA, said.
Donations and volunteers for the charity are a big part of North Star Reach’s funding. The camp is completely non-profit, deriving no financial benefit from donations.
“It means a lot to me because I love participating in the community and this is like a huge charity fundraising event, so it’s really nice to have the opportunity to help out in that way,” said Senior Survivor Liam Timmerman.