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.

JAYSON AND JONNAYA

Vea Holmes is a proud grandmother, like most. But she’s not only Grandma—she also serves as her grandkids’ permanent guardian. Ten-year-old Jayson and 9-year-old Jonnaya, who have both had chronic asthma since birth, went to live with Vea full-time seven years ago. Since then, Vea has adjusted to life as a single parent of two children with serious medical needs.

“I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a child and not be able to breathe,” Vea says, holding back tears. “They can’t go outside and run and play without medication. But they’re so brave— doing whatever it takes to still have fun.”

And fun—lots of it—is exactly what Jayson and Jonnaya had at three different camp sessions in 2013: Spring Family Camp Weekend, Pulmonary-Nephrology Camp, and Fall Family Camp Weekend. Both kids spent hours at Angie’s Arts & Crafts, stringing beads and creating dream catchers. Jonnaya took to archery and fishing, while Jayson had a one-track mind for all things canoeing.

Vea attended family camp, too. She vividly remembers trying to conquer the ropes course. “My heart was in my feet,” she says. “At one point, the kids were crying, saying they wanted to turn back. Counselor Jenna was with Jonnaya the whole time, cheering her on to keep going. My kids were the youngest ones to go all the way across. I was so proud. When Jonnaya finished, she said, ‘I’m the bravest girl in the world!’”

When asked how she felt about the kids attending camp on their own, Vea sighs with relief. “At Flying Horse Farms, they can run around and be crazy, and I don’t have to worry,” she says. “I know they’re safe.”

Beyond the reassurance of knowing the children are taken care of medically 24 hours a day, Vea says the other relief about camp at Flying Horse Farms is both financial and emotional.

“There’s no way I could afford to send Jayson and Jonnaya to a camp like this—much less three times in a year,” Vea says. “But this camp is made available to us for free. I’ve watched my grandkids experience all the things I remember from ‘normal’ camp as a little girl—dancing, singing, being silly and free— and that is a priceless gift. I hope people will continue to support Flying Horse Farms and change the lives of more families like mine.”