Dear Mrs. Obama,
Hey, my name is Chloe. I am 10 years old.
I am burned. I got 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns because hot tea spilled on me. Yes, that’s right. I said hot tea. Not oh, I’ll drink it now hot tea. Scalding, 2- minutes-out-of-the-kettle hot tea. 20% of my lungs also got burned. I was 15 months old. I stayed in the hospital for 3 weeks. My life was saved at Shriner Hospitals for Children – Boston.
But I’m better now. My burn hospital Ben Ali Shriners (Shriners) is amazing. They have 22 hospitals over the US, Canada, and Mexico. Shriners treats a list of conditions from A-Z. I’ve had 7 surgeries at Shriners. I’ve seen kids who have orthopedic problems, burns, spinal cord issues, need leg lengthening, cleft lip of palate, and other issues I don’t know the names of.
I go to Champ Camp. Champ camp is a burn survivors-only camp. At champ we can be normal kids. It is held at Wonder Valley Ranch which is near Fresno, CA. Champ Camp is so special because EVERY CAMPER there knows what you’ve been through. Some of my friends are missing a leg. A few others are missing fingers. Some people have facial burns. I got lucky. My burn can be mainly covered up by a shirt because my burn is on my chest and neck.
Burn survivors are normal people who have burns but we aren’t always treated like normal people. When one of my friends came back to school after his burn, nobody would play with him at recess and they called him names. One time some boys saw my burn after a surgery and it had bruising on it and they called me zombie. But we are just normal people.
For some burn survivors their world was turned upside down, like a pair of brothers I know from Camp. One of their twin brother was killed by his burns. He died on Christmas Day 2008. For another her birth mother dropped a burning cigarette into her crib which ended in her having only 4 toes and 1 leg.
All burn survivors have been through a lot. From hot tea to falling into the fireplace to losing a leg or a brother, everybody at champ camp knows what you’ve been through. Surgeries, stares, pain. Every single camper, CIT, and most counselors know all of that. Champ camp is the best thing that has happened to me.
On the ride there this year a little girl was crying because she wanted to go home. At the end of camp I walked up to a little huddle of Buckaroos (the youngest age group) and the same little girl was wailing because she didn’t want to leave. A counselor was fanning her eyes with her yearbook and then put on her sunglasses and said, “I just like wearing my sunglasses inside, Yup.” I started bawling when I got home and then a song that they played a lot at champ camp came on the radio and I cried even harder.
It hurts so much to say goodbye to champ camp for another year. Even though it’s just one week a year, it’s amazing. At camp you can see that you aren’t the only one with burns. I actually heard a girl who was recently burned say that she thought that there were only a few burn survivors.
Champ camp may just be a week, but it changes you. You can just be a kid at champ camp. It’s super fun at champ camp. There are go-carts, dirt bikes, horseback riding, judo, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, water wars, water games, a pool, trampolines, a ropes course, Atlantis (a giant floating playground), riflery, archery, bbguns, woodworking, arts and crafts, music, and on Thusday we go to wild waters adventure park for free with a reserved area for us.
126 kids including CITS came to camp last year. Those kids, CITs, and the counselors (about 2-3 counselors for every 3-6 kids) get sent to camp entirely on donations. It costs $750 to send one person to camp for a week. All that money comes from donors. There are fundraisers like pancake breakfasts and fire truck relays that I participate in, a bachelors auction and other things. I also make a little stand with handmade jewelry, pastries,and friendship bracelets. My goal this year is to raise $200 that I would split between the AARBF( the foundation that holds champ camp, Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation) and Shriners. I have seen what charity can do and I want to help. I want to someday make enough money on those little sales to send myself to camp.
My burn might seem bad, but it isn’t that super bad. I’ve seen way worse. 80% of your body burned, barely any hair, and losing your twin. Shaving your head for skin graphing.
I know that diabetes and AIDS and HIV and cancer are important, but burns are too. When I ask people what they think of burn survivors, they usually ask what are burn survivors. That just makes me mad. Sometimes, when I see a baby I think of my burn and I warn the mother of the baby about burns because I don’t want more kids to go through what I’ve gone through. Surgeries, stares, scars. I hope that doesn’t have to happen to more people. It would mean a lot to me and other burn survivors if you could give a shout out about burn survivors, champ camp and the AARBF.