From ages 5 to 18, with personalities and interest as varied as they come, our campers share two things in common: they have serious illnesses, and incredible spirits. They are the reason Flying Horse Farms exists, and the inspiration for everything we do.

ALIYAH

When Aliyah Bing visited Flying Horse Farms for Hematology and Oncology camp this summer, she fulfilled a lifelong dream: walking the catwalk with her friends. Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, a Columbus nonprofit dedicated to increasing awareness of childhood cancer, hosted an evening of fun and fashion at camp. And within moment of her first runway strut, Aliyah proved that her “I’m famous for my smile” t-shirt is nothing short of the truth.

But life isn’t always so glamorous for Aliyah. She was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at less than two months old and, now nine, continues to manage pain crises and hospital visits. She makes several trips to the hospital emergency room each winter, when fighting off infection becomes especially difficult.

“She can keep her water bottle at her desk to stay hydrated and the school bus picks her up right outside the house,” says Aliyah’s mom, Jennifer. “But she’s getting older and she doesn’t like feeling left out.”

Still, Aliyah bounces back. One of her long-term hospital stays was the result of Necrosis, a rare condition that causes excruciating pain. After receiving medication and getting plenty of rest, she eagerly returned to exploring the great outdoors.

“She loves hikes,” Jennifer says. “I have to empty her pockets and book bag all the time. They’re packed with rocks.”

When Aliyah’s not on the nature trail or working the runway at camp, she serves as camp’s (un)official bacon connoisseur. Ask her what that’s all about and she’ll tell you, “I take my bacon seriously.”

Flying Horse Farms is a place where Aliyah can be her fun-loving, wise, and energetic self. Her mother and twin sister have also attended family camps, giving the family an opportunity to spend quiet time together.

“It’s a time to just relax and have fun, and to be around other people who understand the journey we’re on,” says Jennifer. “I don’t think I’d send her to any other camp.”