Helping special-needs children to laugh and play

first_imgHelping special-needs children to laugh and play Helping special-needs children to laugh and play Associate Editor L eaving wheelchairs behind, kids climb high on horseback, thrilled to ride powerful and tall.Blind children dip brushes into pots of colorful paints, cheerfully creating vibrant art for others to see.A Downs Syndrome child grins broadly at the beauty of the Manatee River, snuggled in the bottom of a canoe, while two counselors do the paddling.When an autistic child stands up in the middle of dinner and hollers, “Go Marlins! Go Marlins!” everyone else joins in and chants, “Go Marlins!” too.Welcome to Dream Oaks S.W.A.M.P. Camp, where “special wishes and magical play” are delivered in a beautiful, natural setting to terminally ill, mentally and physically challenged children, as well as at-risk kids.Watching special-needs children laugh and play at a summer camp that builds confidence and lets them feel normal for a week is a dream come true for 57-year-old Eddie Mulock, a Bradenton lawyer who once served on The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors.After years of dreaming and scheming about creating the special children’s camp an idea sparked during Mulock’s hospitalization for heart transplant surgery the first group of kids finally arrived in June and continued to pour in through the end of July.“Overwhelming!” Mulock said of the first time he met the long-awaited campers. “Since I got out of the hospital in 1995, I had visualized in my mind what the kids would be like and how I’d spend time with them. All of a sudden, on a Monday morning, we had a slew of kids at camp. It was a very teary experience.” Mulock still practices law, but this summer he’s been a happy camper in the thick of things, loving it when the children call him “Mr. Eddie” and make him the target of water balloons and squirt guns.“We had children arrive on Monday, a little sick and angry, and some wouldn’t smile. One mother said, `My son never smiles.’ But by the end of the week, he was laughing. His mother came to a talent show, and she was in tears and he was laughing,” Mulock said.Another mother, Pam Lozano, expressed her gratefulness in a letter, thanking Mulock and the camp staff for giving her daughter, Gabrielle, the time of her life.Born with a brain tumor in her optic nerve, Gabrielle endured a year and a half of chemotherapy, three operations, 35 radiation treatments, and “probably at least 2,000 needles.”One night a priest was called when she stopped breathing and her heart stopped, but she miraculously pulled through and has not needed treatment for seven years.“For my child to go through all she did, which is something no child should ever have to go through, and have her ask me for the last three years to go to camp, I would always have to tell her `no.’ They were either too far away or just not suited for a child like her,” Lozano wrote.“After she came home from the first day of camp on June 25, I said, `Well Camper Lozano, how was camp?’ She responded with such a grin on her face and said, `Oh, Mommy! It was great! I had so much fun, I wish I could go forever!’“That one phrase should make each and every one of you feel like the most important person in the world.”Pretty heady stuff for Mulock, who gets his reward whenever he hangs out with the kids at the camp.“One little boy, all he says is `You! You! You!’ and runs over and hugs me. Another little boy speaks Russian and English and plays chess, but he’s autistic and has trouble controlling his behavior.“He didn’t want to go home and wanted to be a counselor, so I gave him a shirt that says he’s a member of the staff and invited him to come back and help at lunch time. He thinks he’s a counselor,” Mulock said with a chuckle.“I love to pat the kids on the back, hug them, and let them know they’re important because they are.”Mulock came up with the idea for the camp, while stretched out in a hospital bed preparing to receive a heart transplant. His heart muscle had been ravaged by a virus that doctors speculated he contracted from drinking tainted water while backpacking in the Idaho mountains with his sons.A major heart attack in 1993 sent him to Shand’s Hospital in Gainesville, where he was connected to a heart and lung machine while awaiting a new heart.Within those stark and sterile walls, Mulock had met a lot of very sick children stuck in hospitals too, and he wondered what they had to look forward to.He’d found out about special-needs camps, but learned there were none on Florida’s West Coast, and vowed to do something about it if he survived.“I was given one day to live. I was on the critical list for a long time. Any time you face a life-or-death situation, you learn perspective. I say to people every day: `So what?’ I think you learn that working night and day to make a dollar is not as important as being with kids and giving. Getting fills your pockets. Giving fills your heart,” Mulock said.On more than 200 acres of a little used Boy Scouts of America property, Camp Flying Eagle in East Manatee County has been transformed into Dream Oaks S.W.A.M.P., an inclusive, barrier-free campground for children ages 7 to 18. Grouped by age and disability, the children enjoy day camping activities, get a break from their parents (and vice versa) and feel independent many for the first time.A pair of all-terrain wheelchairs roll along nature trails. The Sarasota-Manatee Association for Riding Therapy provides a slanted wooden ramp to bring disabled children to saddle level where they happily trot away on gentle horses.Mulock’s oldest son, Brett, who teaches emotionally handicapped children, is program director.Camp director Jodi Franke spent six busy months planning meals and coordinating activities that include everything from humor therapy to music therapy to swimming to meeting special visitors such as a world champion cyclist who is paralyzed from the waist down and pedals with his hands.When the children check in at the camp, a full-time nurse takes all the medications from the parents and carefully doles out the meds during the day. The nurse checks blood pressure and monitors vitals at the new health lodge built by Manatee Memorial Hospital. Doctors are on call.After the first month of camp, Eddie Mulock was proud to report: “One bug bite. One skinned knee. A little boy with an upset stomach. Bottom line, we were free of serious problems.”On the last week in July, Mulock was busy welcoming his new group of campers, at-risk kids bused in by the Boys and Girls Club.“They might be having trouble at school or at home. They need an opportunity, too. I saw a need,” Mulock said. “Most of the children are minority children who haven’t had the same opportunities. They might not have parents, they might be in foster homes.”What Mulock teaches the kids: “Hope is so important. I am one person who knew that to have hope for the future is so important for your health. If they look to next summer, they’ll live that long and beyond.”What the kids teach him: “Sicknesses are only a certain aspect of life. They don’t have to limit your enjoyment of life.”Mulock, who aptly named his 18-acre homestead the “Second Chance Ranch” is still dreaming big.Through his not-for-profit Foundations of Dreams, Inc., the camp was opened with $250,000 from companies and private donations.This month, construction is beginning on 10 cabins, so that next year the camping experience will be an overnight adventure. They’re $300,000 short of their cabin-construction goal, Mulock said.He invites donors to name a cabin after their law firm or organization. So far, he said, Holland & Knight lawyers have been very involved helping raise money for the camp.He envisions an ecology building and aviary, where children will bend over microscopes studying plants and animals.“What I really want to do is go to an adult handicapped camp in the fall, after we get the cabins built,” Mulock said.It’s all part of an ambitious plan for the changed man who once vowed, if he were given a second chance at living: “I’d give more and live more. Now, I don’t pass up hugs. I don’t pass up conversation. I laugh more. I hope more. And I dream more dreams.”For more information contact the Foundation for Dreams, Inc., 519 13th Street West, Bradenton 34205, telephone: (941) 748-2104, or visit www.foundationfor August 15, 2001 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular Newslast_img

Toby Alderweireld confident for festive period due to Spurs’ strength in depth

first_imgToby Alderweireld believes Tottenham’s emphatic win over Monaco proves they have the depth of squad to handle the chaotic Christmas period. Press Association Mauricio Pochettino made seven changes for Spurs’ final Europa League group game but his fringe players stepped up as they outplayed Monaco in a 4-1 victory. Erik Lamela grabbed the headlines with a first-half hat-trick but midfielder Tom Carroll capped an assured display with a late goal while 18-year-old Joshua Onomah was particularly lively on his first start for the club. Tottenham host Newcastle on Sunday, looking to close a three-point gap on the Barclays Premier League’s top four, with Southampton, Norwich and Watford all to come before the end of the month. “We need our squad,” Alderweireld said. “We are going to play a lot of games over the Christmas period. If someone gets injured or suspended, we know another guy can take his place. (On Thursday night) they showed they are ready for it. “I think we made it comfortable. We started very well and the guys who are not playing all the time, they wanted to prove something and I think they did (on Thursday night). “It is important for the confidence so we can take this result into Sunday. It is nice to be top of the group. We did our job very well in the Europa League up until now.” Onomah was perhaps the most exciting newcomer on show at White Hart Lane and the attacking midfielder may be given further chances to impress while Mousa Dembele struggles with illness and Nacer Chadli regains sharpness following two months out with injury. Born and raised in Enfield, Onomah is the latest academy graduate to come through at Spurs, but Alderweireld was not surprised by the youngster’s display. “We train with him every day,” Alderweireld said. “He is quite strong, he is quick, he is a good footballer. I think he has a good future. “He did not look to play safe because he is confident. He shows it every day in training. It was a good opportunity for him to show his quality.” Alderweireld joined Tottenham for around £11million in the summer and the 26-year-old has been one of the club’s star performers, forming a strong partnership with fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen. Only Manchester United have a better defensive record than Spurs in the league so far and Chadli, another of Alderweireld’s compatriots, has hailed his team-mate’s contribution. “Toby is a great guy. I’ve known him now for five years,” Chadli said before Thursday’s win. “He has always been a good defender. He has had a very good start to the season. It has been very positive how he’s played. “He has been helped by the team-mates. Everyone is very good with each other and that has helped the guy settle in. “Toby is quiet but he’s always looking to help his team-mates. Since I’ve known him, he’s always been like this. I think it’s a great signing for us.” last_img read more

Fortnite content update adds Tilted Town, a Season 10 map change where you can’t build

first_imgBut we’re not here to debate about robots. We’re here to look at the patch notes, which includes an interesting new area on the map called Tilted Town. Harvesting and building will not be allowed in this area, and several weapons have been unvaulted for this area of the map only.We also have yet another sniper added to the game.What to expect in Tilted TownA Rift Zone, which first affected Dusty Divot, turning it into Dusty Depot, has now affected Neo Tilted. Neo Tilted is no more and this area on the map is now called Tilted Town. According to Epic games, “A Rift Zone has turned this location into what it was many years in the past: a Wild West settlement.”The biggest thing you need to know about Tilted Town is building and harvesting are not allowed in this area.There are also a handful of weapons that spawn in this area of the map:Double Barrel Shotgun (Epic and Legendary variants)Six Shooter (Uncommon, Rare, and Epic variants)Hunting Rifle (Uncommon and Rare variants)Infantry Rifle  (Common variant)Automatic Sniper Rifle added “Keep your opponents pinned down at long range with this full-auto sniper rifle.”Epic Games has added yet another Sniper Rifle into Fortnite. In fact, there are almost two new snipers added to the game if you consider that the Hunting Rifle has been unvaulted for Tilted Town. We now have the Storm Scout, Automatic, Semi-Auto, Bolt-Action and the Heavy snipers all in the game.The Automatic Sniper Rifle is available in Rare, Epic, and Legendary variants. it can be found from Floor, Chest, Vending Machines, Supply Drops, and Loot Carriers. Here’s what you need to know about the Automatic Sniper Rifle:  Uses Medium Ammo.Projectiles travel faster than other Sniper Rifles.Damage: 31/33/35Headshot: 62/66/704 Rounds per second.16 Rounds per magazine.Uses a reduced zoom scope.There will also be a new limited time mode added to Fortnite’s rotation. It will be called Aresenal and it’s a Solo team type.”Work your way through all of the weapons, starting with the higher rarities and ending with the lower rarities. The first player to get an elimination with the final weapon wins! Infinite ammo is on, and players will drop materials when they are eliminated.” Epic Games released its v10.00 Content Update patch notes for Fortnite Tuesday morning, and fans likely won’t be too happy with the results.Not that anything within the patch notes is bad, but rather what’s not in the patch notes. After several days of complaints about the BRUTE being overpowered, Epic Games did not nerf the controversial Season 10 weapon. The BRUTE remains in the game, and is as powerful as when it first arrived. (Epic Games) read more

Registration open for Mini Stars of Tomorrow

first_img8thMarch:8th (4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.) FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Registration for the Fort St. John Soccer Club’s Mini Stars of Tomorrow opened this week.Mini Stars is an introduction to the Excellence Program. The program is open to kids born between 2007 and 2009. Featured during the program are a variety of fun and challenging training techniques.The program will have ten sessions led by Alberta Soccer coaches. All activities are part of the Alberta Soccer curriculum and adhere to long-term player development.- Advertisement -Registration costs $215 per player and can be done by clicking here. Kids who register will receive a free a free T-shirt.All sessions will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Kids Arena Field House. The program’s dates are shown below:October: Advertisement 23rdNovember:9th23rd30thDecember:7th14thJanuary:11th25thFebruary:Advertisementlast_img read more

UPDATE – Power outage in the Charlie Lake area

first_img UPDATE – Power has been restored to most of the areas in Charlie Lake that were affected Saturday afternoon.  There is still one outage affecting 280 customers in the Graham River area. Hydro hopes to have power back on in that area by 7:30pm tonight.- Advertisement – About 900 customer are currently without power in the Charlie Lake area.The outage started shortly after 12pm and should be restored by 4:30pm.  The cause of the outage is still under investigation. Update – Power has been restored in the following area.  There is another outage East of 269 RD, West of 265 RD, South of 85 AVE, North of OLD FORT RD, which should be on by 4:30.last_img read more