Most football fans know that Colin Kaepernick, a Pitman High graduate and current San Francisco 49ers superstar quarterback, is an adopted child. But what many people don't know is that he was adopted after his parents lost two children to congenital heart disease very early in life.
Because of that, Kaepernick has long been an ardent supporter of Camp Taylor, a summer camp for children with heart disease.
Kaepernick and nine Turlock Unified School District schools are teaming up for a new “Coins 4 Kap’s Heart Warriors” fundraiser, intended to raise $24,000 to send 30 Turlock students to Camp Taylor.
From Jan. 19, through Feb. 12, the schools will raise funds through coin jar donations, wrist band sales and t-shirt sales which all feature Kaepernick’s well known No. 7 and his name.
For students who have congenital heart disease the camp is an oasis of fun. Turlock Junior High seventh grader Ethan Millerick, 12, said Camp Taylor is his most enjoyable time of year.
“We have scavenger hunts, sing songs, play games and we receive heart education,” he said. “I don’t feel alone there, there are other people who know what I’m going through.”
Millerick has had five open-heart surgeries after being born with congenital heart disease, the most recent coming in Nov. 2012.
Camp Founder Kimberly Gamino, whose own son had congenital heart disease, says the camp gives these unique children the opportunity to become empowered with self-esteem.
“When most people think of heart disease, they think of something that will happen later in life, but these kids have lived with this disease their entire lives. Camp Taylor is their safe haven,” she said.
Gamino explained that Coins for Kap’s Heart Warriors has four major goals: education, finding more children to serve, inspiring youth to know that no matter how young they are they can donate because every penny helps, and to raise the needed funds to send 30 kids to Camp Taylor this year.
T-shirts are $30, bracelets are $5 and heart passes are $2. Heart passes allow kids who purchase them to wear a ball cap to school on Valentine’s Day. Every student who purchases a t-shirt, is entered into a drawing to meet Kaepernick later this year. One child from each school site will be selected.
For more information, and to see a video on Camp Taylor with Colin Kaepernick, visit http://www.kidsheartcamp.org/colin-kaepernick-and-camp-taylor/.