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Burn camp ‘so important’ to young survivors: Surrey dispatcher

South Surrey home part of largest Hometown Heroes Lottery prize package

Amanda Roman has never endured the pain of a serious burn herself, but she has seen someone close to her suffer.

Her cousin, now 38, suffered third-degree burns to his legs, chest and arms when he was a boy, while imitating his dad on their Abbotsford farm.

“It got out of hand,” Roman said. “It was pretty traumatic and he was in the hospital for a long time.”

His experience is one of the reasons Roman, a dispatcher for the Surrey Fire Service, is passionate about the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund. Her cousin was among kids to attend the organization’s inaugural Burn Camp, which began hosting young burn survivors for a week of fun and support nearly three decades ago.

The camp is an opportunity for kids as young as six to be around others with shared experiences in a non-judgmental environment that is devoted to giving them memories that will last a lifetime – at no cost to their families.

“I remember the positive impact it had on his life,” said Roman.

READ ALSO: Burn camp ‘really puts things in perspective,’ says South Surrey nurse

The Langley resident said she became involved with the Burn Fund herself more than a dozen years ago, not long after starting with the Surrey Fire Service. After spending some time helping with the Bright Nights fundraiser in Stanley Park – the Burn Fund’s single-largest fundraiser – she applied to be a camp counsellor.

The experience was heartwarming, particularly given that Roman, while not a burn survivor herself, knows firsthand what it’s like to go through something that is “pretty scary and traumatic.”

“I went through a stage of my life where I had lymphoma… so I see the burn camp now – I understand it more. I can see how important it is.”

Described as an “epic week of fun and connection,” activities organized for the 75 or so campers run the gamut, and include everything from kayaking and skit nights, to arts and crafts. Doctors, nurses, medical therapists, firefighters and adult burn survivors donate their time to make the week happen, as do camp ‘graduates’ who return as junior counsellors.

“It’s just really amazing to see how these kids grow,” said Roman. “I just enjoy their energy and everything that they do.”

The camp – set this year for July 17-22 in Squamish, following two virtual years due to the pandemic – is among initiatives made possible by fundraisers like the Hometown Heroes Lottery.

Run in partnership with VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, the lottery offers a chance at one of nine grand prize packages or $2.2 million in tax-free cash.

The largest grand-prize package, worth more than $2.7 million, includes a new, six-bedroom home in South Surrey, at 14072 18A Ave., and $50,000 cash for furniture.

There are also 50/50 tickets up for sale, with a current prize pot of more than $1 million.

In addition to the camp, which costs around $3,000 per camper to stage, lottery proceeds support specialized adult health services and research, as well as resiliency programs for first responders. There’s also a Little Lionhearts program, which introduces “super-young survivors” and their parents to a “mini burn camp.”

Last year, the lottery raised more than $6 million.

The deadline to buy tickets is July 14, but it’s possible the lottery will sell out early. Ticket sales are already past the halfway mark and the 50/50 prize pot is over $1.2 million, meaning the winner will take home at least $600,000.

For more information, visit Tickets are available online, by phone at 604-648-4376 or in-person at any London Drugs.
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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