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Elevating the camp experience for kids

Editors Note: This is a blog post written by Flying Horse Farms President/CEO Nichole E. Dunn.

Volunteers are critical at Flying Horse Farms, and volunteers like Sarah Kersey are key to our ability to create meaningful, healing camp experiences for children with serious illnesses and their families.

In the spring of 2018, our camp team approached Sarah about nominating her for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. With her typical bubbling enthusiasm, Sarah accepted the recognition with gratitude and delight. From that moment on, our camp was a whirlwind of excitement and anticipation as we waited to hear more about the award.

We learned Sarah was a finalist on a day she was volunteering at camp. And though we desperately wanted to share the news with her, we were thrilled to find out Kasey Kahne, her favorite NASCAR driver, would be calling to congratulate her. We were over the moon hearing her tell us about her call with Kasey through her happy tears of joy. Talk about a high point for the week!

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 21: during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 21, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Our entire experience working with The NASCAR Foundation was wonderful. From the communication with The NASCAR Foundation team to working with the video crew and planning travel logistics, we were greeted with professionalism, excitement and gratitude – traits that are also at the foundation of Sarah’s commitment to camp.

As a cancer survivor herself, Sarah is uniquely able to connect with campers in greatly profound ways. She fully understands what it feels like to be diagnosed with a serious illness, and she’s grateful that her cancer diagnosis brought her to camp. Sarah’s joy is infectious, and it resonates throughout our entire camp. Her authenticity helps campers feel safe and secure enough to conquer new challenges.

To be able to recognize Sarah’s commitment to camp has been extraordinary. She is more than deserving as she truly has a gift for connecting with children and understanding their needs with empathy. Through the award nomination, we were able to share Sarah’s story of compassion and love with a broad audience. Our hope is that Sarah’s story moves people to give back in meaningful ways to local nonprofits making a difference in their communities.

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With the grant funding we received from The NASCAR Foundation, we have been able to evaluate opportunities for enhancing our psychosocial team to further support the mental wellness of our campers. Flying Horse Farms was the first camp in the SeriousFun Children’s Network to hire a full time child life specialist, and through the additional funding, we will have the opportunity to provide greater psychosocial care to our increasing number of campers served each session in 2019.

We’re so proud of Sarah for the recognition she received and are honored that she’s a part of our camp family. We’re grateful to The NASCAR Foundation for not only the support of Flying Horse Farms, but also their gracious gifts to nonprofits around the country. We’re delighted to have been part of this journey.

Nichole E. Dunn
Flying Horse Farms

Nominations are now open for The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award that recognizes NASCAR fans who are volunteering for children’s causes. Click here to nominate today. Nominations will be accepted through March 22.