Thursday, July 1, 2010

NASCAR INTERSECTS WII THERAPY (WIIHAB) as KYLE PETTY, Racing's Renaissance Man, meets the "Wii" OT

Sometimes unexpected opportunity and inspiration find you. On a recent Tuesday evening in Williamsburg, Va. I met someone who offers both to anyone willing to make the investment. Kyle Petty, known to many through ever popular NASCAR racing, spoke to the attendees of the Electrical Utility Fleet Managers Conference. His engaging speech explained his family's role in building the sport of auto racing. First, he told of his Grandfather, Lee, who was drawn to racing as a way to provide for his family. Next, through engaging stories, he introduced the listers to his now famous father, Richard. Richard loved the sport and drove for the thrill. Kyle explained that he, personally, also loved the thrill of racing like his father. Both Kyle and his wife were excited that their son Adam dreamed of carrying on the Petty racing legacy. Shock and sadness swept over every listener as Mr. Petty explained how that dream would not be realized. As he continued, Mr. Petty transformed our shock and sadness into admiration and hope as we learned how this amazing family turned tragedy into a vision and then into the reality of helping kids with special needs as a way to honor the life and dreams of their son, Adam.
Victory Junction, a camp for kids with chronic medical conditions and serious illnesses operates near Randleman, NC. Since opening in 2004, over 11,000 children and families have been served by programs designed especially for them. Many different populations are served over the summer as well as throughout the year. One aspect that makes this camp so special is that each week is dedicated to a specific diagnosis category, such as autism, cerebral palsy, and burns, among others. Mr. Petty explained the importance of this model. By bringing individuals who struggle with similar problems together, they learn that they are not alone. As therapists, we recognize that grouping in this manner enhances opportunity for peer modeling and social support.
Hopefully, everyone who reads this blog post will consider becoming involved at some level with this great organization. Occupational and physical therapist and students could volunteer as cabin counselors or in another capacity. Your expertise would be appreciated and you would learn so much. Students considering applying for occupational or physical therapy school could also spend a week with the campers and gain valuable experience while giving back so much. Parents looking for something special for their child may find that this camp would provide the care and respite they seek. I plan to contact Victory Junction about volunteering myself. I want to work with these special kids in the fresh air while they involve themselves in real world golfing, bowling, swimming, driving and fishing ... all the things that in the school setting we are luckily able to do in the virtual world through Wii Therapy.

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