Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Letters from Camp........Councillors

We’ve been getting some pretty cool mail since the Run hit the media. It’s been especially neat to hear from people who used to work at Camp Gencheff, a wonderful camp for physically and developmentally disabled kids & adults, set on the south shore of PEI. Alex first went to camp there when he was about 6. He attended camp there (usually a week to 10 days) every summer up until a couple of years ago, when his running cut into camp and his younger school peers started becoming his camp councillors. The Camp also offered (probably still does) “respite weekends” and Alex sometimes enjoyed that too.

I’ve heard from 3 people who used to work at Gencheff and knew Alex when he was young (two of them are in the photo above, Alex is in the front row with a white towel over his shoulder ). It seems not only was he "memorable” but influenced people even back then. They live in different, and 2 of them distant, places and found out about it different ways. We're glad they wrote.

Dear Ms. Bain,

I read about Alex's run accross PEI on an autism list serve I belong to in South Florida. I am a behavior analyst in West Palm Beach, Florida and I have been working with children and adolescents with autism for about ten years.

I was especially excited to read about Alex's impending trek across the Island because I grew up in Stanhope, PEI and Alex was actually the first person with autism I ever met. I met Alex when he was about 6 years old and I was fresh out of high school working at Camp Gencheff for the summers.

I was very happy to hear how well Alex has done and to see and hear what a great young man he has become. I will be making a donation to sponsor Alex on his run and I will be monitoring his progress come July.

Tell Alex I said hello, and good luck!

Toby Honsberger MSEd, BCBA


Hi Alex I just read about your run in the Guardian online! I used to work at Camp Gencheff when you were there (my name was Jodi MacEachern then) and I can t believe you re 18 now! My brother Jeff used to teach you at Gulf Shore, too. Congratulations on such a great idea you ll do great!! If you send me an address, I d love to contribute to this excellent cause. You re a great example, Alex! I m proud of you!

Jodi LeBlanc, BHE


Hi Alex,

I met you when you were about seven years old and you were attending Camp Gencheff. I was a volunteer there for a week one summer and I had never met anyone with autism. For some reason you made a huge impact on me. You were a beautiful little boy whom I wanted very badly to be able to communicate with you. We were out for a walk in the wind and it was very agitating to you and you were very upset. I loved being around you that week as I could see you were an extremely bright little guy who couldn't express that.

The winter after I met you I read about twenty different books on autism. I became as educated as I possibly could, I ended up getting a job as a counsellor at Camp Gencheff and worked there for four consecutive summers starting in 1996. So I was fortunate enough to see you all of those summers and watch you develop and communicate more with everyone. I also read all of Barry Neil Kaufmans books and was very interested in Raun, his son's story. I went to the Option Institute in 1997 to volunteer for six weeks. I don't know if you are familiar with "Bears" and the Option Institute, but it is a remarkable place.

I also decided to take the Human Services course at Holland College and worked in the field for several years. I did visit camp several times after finishing my work there and each time I saw you I was so pleased to see how you were growing up to be such a well rounded teenager.

Your story on running is very inspiring as well. You have obviously excelled at school and you appear to be quite an athlete. It sounds like you have a very supportive family as well.

I just wanted you to know that meeting you as a little boy all those years ago has made an impact on my life and inspired me to take paths I may not have chosen otherwise.

I wish you all the best in all your future races and will keep an eye on your web page to see all your future accomplishments.

Take care,
Carol O'Hanley


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