Martha Grace & Sara- Martha Grace likes riding with the windows down, golf card rides, going for walks at the park, watching Kathie Lee and Hoda videos, dancing, laughing, sitting on the porch, snuggling with her dogs, white cheddar Cheetos, Sonic happy hour, and being around her family and friends. She can say 100+ words in her own language (how cool is that?), she can make anyone's day in 1.5 seconds, she can spot a hat or pair of glasses from a mile away, and she can push the shopping cart all by herself (and sometimes even surprises you and goes super speed). Martha Grace is beautiful, creative, non-judgmental, and hilarious. Autism is only a part of her, and probably the part that makes her as awesome as she is. Martha Grace is full of life and there is always something new that makes you laugh. Everyday is an adventure. I hope that everyone gets to experience a friendship like this in their lifetime. A friendship where "disability" is overshadowed by joy and fun and laughter. A friendship that is measured by moments, not labels or diagnoses. A friendship in which nonverbal communication means just as much as verbal communication, if not more. She knows at Camp Barnabas, it's a safe place where people know her and love her. She knows it's a place where she is accepted, loved and appreciated.
Martha Grace is a beautiful and endlessly fascinating girl... She is very friendly and certainly likes to communicate for someone who is on the autism spectrum. She talks through gestures and one word utterances. Martha Grace still requires assistance everyday. She is 24 but still lives at home with family. We first enrolled Martha Grace into Camp Barnabas when she was 7. It was the first time Martha Grace had ever been away from home for a long period of time. Martha Grace loves being with other people at camp and she likes to be in the middle of the action. She has had wonderful people engage with her when she goes to camp. All of the people that we meet through Camp Barnabas have become very important to our family and we still keep in touch. Sarh is one of those people who came into Martha Grace's life and never left. She is a very special person to us for that reason. The beauty of Martha Grace going to camp is that she gets to be involved in a bigger community. At home, it's just her family getting through the daily chores, or doctor appointments or therapies. But when she goes to camp, she gets to leave it behind. We all do. We get to leave the rigor of the challenges. We don't worry about her. We just know that she is delighting in whatever she is taking part in at Camp Barnabas. Everyone is a celebrity at Camp Barnabas and I think that's what makes it so special for the campers and for the families. Barnabas has given us the opportunity to let Martha Grace be just a typical girl and enjoy the things that she can't during her regular life. She doesn't get to go to movies, or take music classes, or participate in too many sports activities. But camp is special to us that way. She gets to be involved. It gives Martha Grace something that we aren't capable of giving to her. The staff at Camp Barnabas has a commitment that gives parents as ease. We are grateful to Camp Barnabas and hope to send Martha Grace as often and as long as she would like.
- Martha Grace's Mother
I like to think that Martha Grace is famous... Martha Grace just beams when she hangs out with Sara and we have embraced Sara as family. This relationship means the world to Martha Grace. They go shopping, they go for walks and rides in the golf cart. Sara just puts her in the car and they just go around town. I like to think that Martha Grace is famous. It seems like anywhere we go in Springfield, people who have worked with her at Camp Barnabas are out in the community and recognize her. The first time we brought her to Camp Barnabas, we were apprehensive because we had only left her for a couple of days with family. So that was a big deal to leave her for a week. She loved Camp Barnabas. Martha Grace loves all of the new people. She is extremely social and likes to be around people. She is happiest when she is around people like her and Camp Barnabas gives her that opportunity. Camp Barnabas is respite. It's a place where I can drop Martha Grace off and not think twice. I don't have to worry about anything. It brings tears to my eyes. It means a lot. Camp Barnabas means peace of mind. There is such an enthusiasm that the counselors bring and the volunteers are fantastic. Unbelievable. So full of energy. They are good, wholesome kids who have a great heart and they work so hard. There is no doubt that God is here. You feel it.
- Martha Grace's Father