Public Donations Allow Campers to Attend Free of Charge

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing

The thing about fire is that it does not discriminate. At any given moment, burning hot flames can strike a family with disastrous consequences.

“God forbid, should that ever happen to your family at the most unexpected time, it’s nice to have people in your community who support organizations that come alongside to help,” says Shane Bauerle, Secretary/Treasurer for Johnson County Professional Firefighters Union Local 4252 and full-time firefighter for Bargersville Community Fire Department.

This is why six years ago, members of the Bargersville IAFF Local 4252 vowed to raise money for a 501(c)(3) that benefits those who have suffered from burn-related injuries. When they learned about the Hoosier Burn Camp (HBC), they knew they wanted to support the organization.

The Hoosier Burn Camp, established in 1997 and held at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, Ind., since 1999, is a nonprofit organization committed to providing life-changing experiences for children 18 and younger who have suffered the physical and emotional trauma associated with severe burn injury.

The injuries vary in severity. Sometimes there is burn damage. Or perhaps scar tissue limits a child’s mobility. Other campers may still be recovering. That’s why counselors cater the camp activities around the capabilities of the child based on the individual camper’s specific injury, whether they sustained it from fire, chemicals, etc. The cost to send one child to this 5-day camp is roughly $1,000.

“That’s a heavy financial burden for families who are already dealing with the loss of their home, mounting medical bills, and other expenses,” says Bauerle, who notes that 55% of the campers come from families with income that is below the poverty level, so the majority of the participants are saddled with a real financial hardship. The HBC, however, doesn’t charge its campers to attend. As a result, the camp, which takes place at the end of May, is funded solely by public donations.

Through the years, its popularity has grown. The first summer it was offered, a dozen campers took part. Now, however, around 70 campers register each year.

“It enables burn survivors to just be one of the kids in a safe, supportive environment,” says Bauerle.

Christina Gordon, who sent her daughter to HBC last year, appreciates the extraordinary people who lead it.

“My daughter loves all the people there….[They] are a big help to kids that are burnt and feel like they don’t fit in,” says Gordon.

Adds parent Tami Swank: “Words can’t describe the pure awesomeness that is HBC. I can only say how truly blessed we are to be involved with this incredible organization.”

On June 20, Bargersville IAFF Local 4252 will host the 6th Annual Burn the Cork fundraiser, to be held at Mallow Run Winery from 6:30-9 p.m.

Guests will not only enjoy a complimentary glass of wine, light appetizers, and a live band (Tastes Like Chicken will be performing), but there will also be food trucks on hand, a raffle, and silent auction.

“Mallow Run is kind enough to open up their original tasting room for our fundraiser,” says Bauerle. “With that includes access to the outdoor stage and downstairs.”

New this year they will offer fun activities for children 12 and under, who get in free. They recognize that the event takes place in the summer when kids are off school — the whole family can attend so parents don’t have to hire a babysitter for the night.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of getting the community to raise money to help a great organization do good things for kids who have been the unfortunate victim of a burn injury,” says Bauerle.

“This is great opportunity for Johnson County and its residents to get involved and be a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Mallow Run Winery is located at 6964 W. Whiteland Rd. in Bargersville. To purchase tickets, go to www.EventBrite.com and search “Burn the Cork.” Tickets are just $20. If you’re bringing along children, be sure to indicate that so organizers can plan accordingly. For more information about HBC, visit hoosierburncamp.org