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For one week each summer, 15-year-old Toledoan Cody Kenyon, the self-proclaimed “one-legged wonder,” gets to enjoy outdoor adventures with other kids who all understand the challenges of being an amputee.
For the past five summers, Cody, who attends Whitmer High School, has joined about 15 other teens and adolescents in Fombell, Pa., at Camp STAR (Summer Time Amputee Retreat). They swim, they climb walls, they ride zip lines, they compete in sports, and they share a special bond.
Located at the YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee/Spencer Campground, the camp draws participants from as far as Ontario and Atlanta. Camp director Cindy McCue says there are 16 registered campers this year.
Cindy Perlowitz, Cody’s mother, said she discovered the camp after searching the Internet. They decided to give it a shot five years ago, and Cody has returned each year since.
Cody has used a prosthetic since his left leg was amputated when he was 11 months old. He was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, in which the femur is short. He enjoys an active lifestyle and the chance to share that with other kids each summer.
“I have to say my favorite part is just being able to be with the people and just do stuff with them,” he said. “A lot of the activities are very active, so we can all be equal when we do them. There’s no unfair advantages or anything.”
Along with the physical activities, the camp offers counselors and staff to educate campers about prosthetic care, physical therapy, and other issues they may face at school, with friends, or during everyday activities.
“Where I go, there aren’t that many amputees around,” Cody said. “So it’s really nice to come up here and have a release and know that you’re not the one who stands out all the time.”
For Cody, though, the people who attend the camp are its best quality.
Ms. Perlowitz says she notices Cody keeping in touch with friends he has made over the years at the camp, whether through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or text messages.
“They’re like my best friends,” Cody said. “We keep in contact in any way possible.”
Cody plans to continue annual trips to the camp.
“He’s already talked about becoming a counselor in training in the next few years and then after that a counselor,” Ms. Perlowitz said.
Contact Brian Buckey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6082.