JAMESTOWN – A Jamestown physical education teacher will be walking around Chautauqua Lake to raise funds so kids with disabilities and their siblings can go to a special camp this summer.
The first annual Kids and Sibs summer camp will be held at Camp Onyahsa on August 23, 24, and 25 and will bring together a group of kids with disabilities and their siblings.
Patrick Smeraldo is known for his work with Toys for Tots, but recently founded Collaborative Children’s Solutions, one of the many nonprofits that will be putting on the camp.
He says the Chautauqua County Family and Support Caregiver group first approached him with the idea.
“They’ll be side by side doing the same camp activities, boating, swimming, you know, any arts and crafts, they’ll all be intermixed doing the same activities side by side in an inclusionary setting,” said Smeraldo.
Because of COVID precautions, 60 kids have been selected to attend. Smeraldo says that while the camp isn’t just for the kids with disabilities, but to also serve as a mentorship opportunity for their siblings.
“The main fact is that we have some adults coming in that also have siblings with disabilities that can mentor them and say ‘Hey, I’ve been where you’re at, I understand’ and you know just to make it a really worthwhile experience,” said Smeraldo.
To put on the camp, the collaborating organizations are renting out the YMCA Camp for three days. Between insurance and the day to day operations of the camp, the whole project will cost $10,000.
Smeraldo decided to raise money for the camp by walking 46 miles around Chautauqua Lake and matching any donation he gets up to $3,000. While he wanted to tackle this feat in one day, but made the decision to spread the walk over three days, starting on the 16 and ending on the 18.
“These kids, they deserve something like this and if it takes me three days, that’s whatever. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll do anything to make this project happen,” said Smeraldo.
Donations can be sent to the group via Venmo @ccsolutions716, PayPal firstname.lastname@example.org, or via checks payable to Collaborative Children’s Solutions, PO Box 3641, Jamestown, NY 14702.