Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jeff Stephenson, Kiwanis Camper, Goes for the Gold

Jeff Stephenson has been to MHKC three times, once last year (2011) and twice this year (2012).  He heard about the camp through his broker at Community Pathways. He prefers the Trip and Travel group where they go on day trips away from camp, but he loves every aspect of camp.

Camp is different  from everyday life in many ways. Jeff says camp is a lot more “fun than home. You don’t do white water rafting on the Deschutes or go fishing at Trillium when you’re at home," he says. To someone thinking about coming to camp, Jeff’s advice is, “If they’ve never been before they should come and see what it’s like. I like the fellowship of all the campers and counselors.”

Jeff, who has no trouble making friends, left behind a whole city of friends when he moved from Dearborn, MI to Oregon three years ago. There he had been active in Special Olympics since the age of 19, participating in bowling, basketball, volleyball, swimming, soccer and bocce ball. But his recent fame comes from his participation in Special Olympics skiing. He competed in the international skiing competition in downhill skiing in Squaw Valley in 1989 and is currently an alternate for 2013's cross country event at the international Special Olympics to be held in Seoul, South Korea.

Jeff learned to ski and trained at Boyne Mountain Resort in Michigan. He states that he was the representative of the city of Dearborn. “The mayor told me I was the ambassador,” he states. “We’re good friends. The city council in Dearborn created a citizens award for athletes. I was the first recipient. The mayor presented it to me. I was also the mascot for the fire department, Sparky the Dog, for many years. The city gave me a going-away party.”

It’s easy to see that Jeff is an outgoing guy who makes friends easily. He has already made many friends among the staff, counselors and campers at MHKC. Jeff loves to show people MHKC and has volunteered to show them around on a tour if they want to see what camp is like. 

“I love seeing Jeff’s smiley face at camp. He always makes my day,” says counselor supervisor Trish Soler. Assistant director Kayci Murray adds, "“Jeff shows us that anything is possible.” 

When not at camp, Jeff lives with his mother in NE Portland and volunteers at Free Geek doing computer evaluations which he says “is fun."  He also has enjoyed watching the Olympics on TV and likes to go fishing at the Oregon Coast and in Alaska. Special Olympics remains one of his favorite activities. “It’s fun, people cheer, they tell me congratulations.”

And of course attending MHKC. “You should make sure to put down that the staff loves me here at camp,” he concludes.

Make sure to watch Jeff compete next year at the Special Olympics in Peyongchang, South Korea! Put it on your calendar. January 26th-February 6th, 2013.

2/09/12 - UPDATE:

Jeff did not end up going to Korea, but he did end up as an alternate for the team. Always in good spirits, Jeff says he was okay with not going because the flight would have been really long. Agreed, Jeff! We at Kiwanis are amazingly proud of you.

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