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Terminally Ill Teenagers Have Weekend Fun In The Brazos Valley

By: Toni Harrison
By: Toni Harrison

This time at camp, Manuel Vila can do his favorite activity, the ropes course.

"By now it's all pretty good I can do pretty much everything," said Manuel Vila, camper, Camp You Only Live Once.

But, he hasn't always been so fortunate. There was a time when his chemo left him unable to walk or even hold his head up.

"The first time I tried to do it I got on my feet, I could barely walk and I got hurt," said Vila.

Manuel has lymphoma. In 2001 he came from Venezuela to Houston for treatment at Texas Children's Hospital. At the time he didn't speak english and had no idea his condition was so bad.

"The person that told me I had cancer was a translator. It was hard you know, you don't know what's going on but you know you have cancer," said Vila.

Manuel is one of 43 terminally ill teenagers visiting Camp For All in Washington County this weekend. The visit is part of The Periwinkle Foundation's Camp YOLO, short for You Only Live Once.

"Taking a bite out of everyday and making each challenge and everyday life the best you can make it is what this camp is all about," said Jenifer King, director, Camp YOLO.

Camp YOLO at Camp for All is a fun way for terminally ill teenagers to get away from the everyday stress of doctors and hospitals. But more importantly, the experience gives each and every camper and opportunity to blossom.

"They help you out and it makes you feel like you can overcome things that you wouldn't usually think you could do," said Vila.

"I've seen limitations and I've seen kids that are scared and when I see them at Camp for All, all that melts away," said King.

The reality of having a chronic illness will never disappear.

"Some of them might not come back in the Fall or Spring. Letting them know that taking every opportunity they have everyday is really important," said King.

But this weekend, campers can create lasting memories at a place built especially for them.


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