Thanks to neighborhood run, kids going to camp

07/07/2012 12:00 AM

07/07/2012 6:39 PM

When Mary Kim Folds, a Davidson resident and mother of two, read about The Charlotte Observer’s Summer Camp Fund, she paused: There’s got to be some way to help.

With the aid of family, friends and 30 children, Folds planned a neighborhood 5K and Fun Run that raised more than $1,000 for the Summer Camp Fund.

The Summer Camp Fund sends children from low-income families to summer camp and runs on reader donations.

Folds’ kids – Mary Patrick, 8, and James, 11 – go to day camps in the summer, so she thought a fundraiser would resonate with them.

“It was something they could easily identify with,” Folds said.

She and her neighborhood friends Beth Cashion and Shelly Knight set up a race along the South Prong Rocky River Greenway, which is adjacent to their neighborhood. The children made poster-board signs for the neighborhood pool, while Folds, Cashion and Knight sent e-vites to their friends and neighbors.

But when the big day arrived, June 11, all they saw was a downpour.

Thankfully, said Folds, it stopped just in time for the race. “We even had a rainbow,” she said.

Folds, 44, and Mary Patrick manned a water station from the family’s little red wagon. Waiting at the finish line were prizes: sparklers and desserts baked by neighbors. They got to pick from brownies and pound cakes, chocolate treats and a even a bag of candy bars.

The kids who chose the candy bars passed them around to share, Folds said. Once the cakes were gone, the rest of the runners got sparklers.

About 30 people of all ages participated in the race, while others just came to cheer and celebrate the cause.

Cashion had an idea for post-race fun: a water-balloon fight.

“We had such a great time,” said Folds. “We’ll have to do it again next year.”

Charlotte Country Day

Missy Miles, director of education resources at Charlotte Country Day’s middle school, did some fundraising of her own. She was touched by the Summer Camp Fund article on May 13 about My Place, a camp for homeless children run by the nonprofit A Child’s Place.

Miles had grown up in the rural town of Ronda, about 80 miles north of Charlotte, and attended overnight camps in the summer.

She remembers going white-water rafting, exploring caves and even tasting Chinese food for the first time.

“There are a ton of different life experiences you can’t get it if you stay in your little bubble,” Miles said.

Miles went on to teach in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for seven years. A couple years ago, she volunteered with A Child’s Place.

She served dinner to hundreds of homeless women and children, and her daughter, about 5 years old, passed out rolls and silverware and played with the children.

“Just seeing all the single mothers with multiple kids, it amazed me how they’re able to keep up with it all and keep their heads on their shoulders and their spirits bright,” Miles said.

So Miles, 34, who has two children and is pregnant with a third, started organizing.

At a weekly faculty meeting, she announced that she would be collecting money for the Summer Camp Fund to donate on behalf of the school.

Within a couple of weeks, she’d raised $350.

“I just thought it was really good to be able to have at least one to two kids go to camp for one to two weeks,” said Miles. “The ultimate reward is knowing that some little child will be handpicked to...escape reality for a while.”

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