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Burn Foundation of CNY provides support for young survivors

Former Oneida Fire Department firefighter Mitch Dryer, who was severely burned in a 2007 fire, and his daughter Emeri, 2, watch the trucks from Moyers Corners Fire Department as they head out on a call. The Dryers were at the MCFD station for the Burn Foundation of CNY’s annual holiday party on Dec. 15.

Former Oneida Fire Department firefighter Mitch Dryer, who was severely burned in a 2007 fire, and his daughter Emeri, 2, watch the trucks from Moyers Corners Fire Department as they head out on a call. The Dryers were at the MCFD station for the Burn Foundation of CNY’s annual holiday party on Dec. 15. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— In addition to the holiday party, the Burn Foundation holds a number of events throughout the year to support its mission. Some, like the annual Burn Run hosted by the East Syracuse Fire Department — which has become one of the premiere running events in Central New York and has grown exponentially since its start in 2006 — are fundraisers for the Clark Burn Center, while others, like a Halloween gathering and other outings held throughout the year, are meant to bring young burn survivors together for a good time. In addition, the foundation provides money for hotel rooms and incidental expenses for out-of-town families with a loved one undergoing treatment at the burn center, and they send burn survivors and medical personnel to seminars and retreats to learn more about burn care and burn prevention.

But by far, the Burn Foundation’s largest annual activity is its Burn Camp, held every summer. The overnight camp allows burn survivors ages 6 to 16 to spend four days enjoying the typical summer camp experience — arts and crafts, swimming, sports, games and more — among their peers, without fear of judgment or ridicule. They also spend time with nurses, social workers, firefighters and adult burn survivors, learning to build a stronger self-image. The cost of the camp is paid for by donations to the Burn Foundation, so no child has to fund his or her attendance.

Ennis recalled his first experience from Burn Camp about a decade ago.

“At that time, the kids used to get picked up for summer Burn Camp right at the hospital,” he said. “Nine or 10 years ago, the hospital was undergoing major renovations, so they asked our chief of fire at the time if the kids could get picked up and dropped off at Syracuse Fire Station No. 1 right up the street, and our chief agreed. I went in there expecting that this is going to be pretty somber, that these kids are going to be pretty introverted and shy because of their disfigurements and burns.”

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