Volunters make Muscular Dystrophy camp a hit

David Broyles

June 20, 2014

Despite the stereotype to the contrary, summer camp was positive for one local family dealing with muscular dystrophy.

The influence of the annual muscular dystrophy event on 10-year-old Troy Thomas Jr. of Mount Airy, and other stories like it, are why local volunteers will again gear up for the group’s annual lock up.

“I was asked in April by (MDA Health care Services Assistant) Martha Story, if we would be interested in the camp,” said Shanna Bowman, his mother. “We live in a house with ten persons and Troy doesn’t get to do a lot of things like other kids. I’m very protective. I try to let him because I know if he stays busy he will be less likely to lose muscle tone and will stay active. I just try to stay close by.”

She said in later years Troy’s eyes and eventually his heart would in all likelyhood be attacked as the disease progresses. In many cases victims die from complications of a weakened heart.

Bowman said her son really enjoys games and especially likes to play basketball. The opportunity seemed a good one for the family as well as for Troy because everyone got a “week off” without the constant medical demands MDA makes on victims and caregivers. She said local organizations, such as Lowe’s Home Improvement and Bojangles Restaurant typically hold fundraisers to help send children to MDA summer camp.

“The amount it (summer camp) costs is from $800 to $1,000 per child,” Bowman said. “We didn’t have to pay anything. Lowe’s sends kids to camp every year. This really impressed me. The camp nurses, doctors and volunteers are not paid. They take a week out of their own time and do it all for the kids. They stay with the children, one on one. Campers have a buddy for the whole week and that gave us peace of mind about him going.”

She said Troy hadn’t traveled anywhere apart from his family before the camp, which ended on June 13, and he loved the chance to fish, canoe and especially enjoyed eating the camp’s cuisine. She said he was especially excited about Lowes volunteers who came to the camp and helped children build monster truck models and other crafts.

“I really think he did more stuff without his parents there,” said Bowman. “He’s ready to go back next year. It gave Troy more confidence. He came back more positive. The structure and doing more stuff made him seem like a totally different kid.”

Bowman also praised her son’s camp counselor, David Erickson, who said Troy was so tired from activities at the end of the day he didn’t need to take his nightly sleeping medicine. She also gives a glowing account of how her shy son described taking two girls to the camp’s dance. She said he “discovered his inner ladies’ man” and told her about taking turns riding on the girls’ wheelchairs at the dance. She said the last day of the camp featured a costume parade followed by tearful goodbyes as campers parted from friends and counselors.

According to Story, MDA’s signature fundraising event is coming up with recruitment for volunteers to be locked up to help MDA slated to begin late next week for the “Surry County Lock-Up.” she said the lock-up celebration and jail event will be held on Aug. 20 at the Surry Shrine Club on 1029 W. Lake Drive in Mount Airy.

Story said persons who want to have someone locked up or recommend a “good servant” through the “MDA Witness protection program may call her at the MDA office at 336-856-1591. More information on the MDA may be obtained at

MDA is the nonprofit health agency whose mission is to support a cure muscular dystrophy, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and related diseases by funding worldwide research. She said the association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.

David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.