0
Business Non-Profits

Camp Casey Spreads the Healing Power of Horses

July 14, 2022

Camp Casey brings horses, events and support to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families

BY KAREN DYBIS

Horses have innate empathy for their human companions, and there is no better way to see that affection in person than to go on one of Camp Casey’s Horsey House Calls.

The Farmington Hills-based nonprofit organization brings these signature, one-day events to families whose children are battling cancer, rare blood disorders, or other life-threatening illnesses. Volunteers bring a horse — yes, a real horse — along with pizza and activities to the child’s home so the neighborhood can not only have fun but also serve as support to the host family.

Camp Casey Spreads the Healing Power of Horses

At a Camp Casey “Horsey House Call”, children with life-threatening illnesses are surprised at the door with a horse!

Camp Casey Horsey House Call participants learn how to groom a horse, go for a ride, and make home-made horse treats, all in their own yard!

“It’s an opportunity for the families themselves to feel supported by their neighbors and friends,” says Molly Reeser, Camp Casey founder and executive director. “It takes the elephant out of the room, which is how to respond to childhood cancer. There can be an uncomfortable conversation gap, but that goes away when you’ve got a giant horse and a party where everybody gets to be a part of it.”

Reeser’s nonprofit has been “delivering happiness on horseback” since 2004 when she created the organization to honor a friend who died from cancer at age 12. This summer, Camp Casey will be busier than ever, Reeser says, because its programming actually grew during the pandemic as a result of the shifts it needed to make to continue to serve.

Camp Casey is Spreading the Healing Power of HorsesPhoto courtesy of Camp Casey

Molly Reeser, Camp Casey founder

For example, Camp Casey adapted to the need for smaller group outings by creating Lone Star Getaways, which help families go on cost-free vacations on privately owned rental properties across Michigan, including places like Cadillac, Ludington, Pentwater, and Frankenmuth. These getaways were so successful that Reeser says Camp Casey hopes to keep the vacations going as part of its overall programs.

“We surprised ourselves by being able to pull through, make it work, and increase the number of families we could reach,” Reeser says. “The feedback was so overwhelming and wonderful from the Lone Star Getaways. Many of these families have not taken a vacation together since the diagnosis. It becomes a beautiful memory.”

During Camp Casey’s “Horsey House Call”, participants make homemade horse treats to feed to their new four-legged friend.

Camp Casey also offers Cowboy Campouts, which are all-inclusive weekend getaways at a dude-ranch resort. These events allow families to stay together on site and meet others in similar circumstances while enjoying campfires, trail rides, outdoor activities, and a peaceful, unplugged atmosphere, Reeser says.

“We don’t advertise it this way, but it be-comes a true support group,” Reeser says.

 

Additionally, Camp Casey works with the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Organization to offer a year-round supplemental program called Outlaw Outings that allows campers and their families to continue their relationships with Camp Casey beyond that first event or contact, Reeser says. These activities include sporting events, a day on the farm, and theater performances.

Photo by Shelly Bush for Camp Casey

The pandemic shut down other programs that helped families whose children had life-threatening illnesses, so demand has increased as a result, Reeser says. Camp Casey chose at that moment to extend its eligibility, and through the help of its long-time donors and friends, the organization was able to help more families as a result, Reeser says.

“That’s the silver lining — we were able to open up, and we learned we can and will now accommodate children who received treatment for other ailments beyond our original mission of cancer and rare blood disorders,” Reeser says. “The nonprofit sector is amazing for how it can take a challenge and make it into an opportunity.”

However, some of its fundraising activities were curtailed during the pandemic quarantines and mandates, so the need for donations and volunteers has increased as well. “This summer, we’re already scheduled and on the trajectory of exceeding our numbers from last year,” Reeser says. “Plus, we’re excited that our Gold Rush Gala is back this September at Detroit’s Garden Theater. We’re hoping to celebrate and highlight the ways that Camp Casey came out of the pandemic stronger and better than ever.”

For more information on how to donate or volunteer, contact Camp Casey at camp-casey.org or 877-388-8315.

 

Want to help Camp Casey with it’s mission? Here are 5 Ways to get Involved with Camp Casey

No Comments

    Leave a Reply