What is SUCCESS? For some reason, the word “success” is one of the most important and used words in the world. Success describes the results of every simple activity we do on a small scale, and on a larger scale, describes our lives as a whole. Although there are over seven billion definitions of success, basically every single person on the planet has their own definition for success. We all agree to understand what success means when we talk about it. There are no two people the same on this planet, every single one of us has very different paths to learning and to experiencing life. Therefore, we all see and feel the world through our own lenses. The more we travel the world, and the more we get in contact with people from different backgrounds, we understand how small we really are as individuals. We all walk through life differently – however, all of us would like to say in the end that we lived a successful life. Success, again, might have different meanings to all of us.
In my humble opinion, being born and raised in a small city, having traveled around the world, having lived half my life on one continent and half on another, the differences that we make that count are the ones made in our own communities, in our own circles, in our own neighborhoods. I was blessed, at a young age, to have the opportunity to be around people with special needs and disabilities. That gave me such a deep understanding of our purpose in this world. We all come from different backgrounds and different beliefs. We all have different abilities, and we all wish for different things. However, we all want to make a difference, to leave our mark on society. We all want to make our parents proud. Well . . . people with special needs and disabilities are no different. They want the same things we all do. All people who have become successful in this life, at some point or another, they had someone believe in them, they had someone tell them they are amazing, and that they will accomplish great things. That is the seed of success. That was a seed planted in those individuals by someone, be it a parent, a coach, a teacher or somebody else. People with special needs and disabilities are no different, they want to be successful, they want to participate, they want to make their parents and communities proud – just like all of us. Unfortunately, our societies have not always been very supportive of them. It seems that we are afraid of what we don’t know. I invite and challenge you to stop being afraid. Please get involved, and be the change you would like to see in the world! Plant a seed of confidence, and support in the lives of people with special needs and disabilities. Believe in them, and they will surprise you by what they will be able to do. If you don’t know where to start, start with us here at Camp K: become a volunteer, become a supporter, and you will start seeing the world with different eyes. It will be like the stage of life has pulled the curtains, and the show is just starting. We are launching several new programs here at Camp K, where children without disabilities will interact with children who have disabilities, so that they understand at an early age that we not all that different. We should play, interact and help each other out – regardless of our abilities.
I have lived a blessed life. I am extremely grateful and thankful for all the enriching experiences and opportunities that I have had so far. They all molded me into what I am today. I have worked for a foundation that inspires support, confidence, and inclusion. A place that searches past our looks, and reaches deep inside into our souls to challenge us to become better people. Over the years, we have hired thousands of employees, we have had thousands of volunteers. I promise you, some of the deepest and most inspirational moments in their lives have been while serving at Camp K. It has been an honor and privilege to have worked for Camp K all these years. It reminds me every day of all the good we have in the world. I have said this before, and I will say it again: people with disabilities are amazing people, when it comes to kindness, honesty, bravery, selflessness and understanding we have a lot to learn from them. So please don’t be afraid. Get involved! And I promise you, it will change your life.
Last Friday, I was invited by the Romanian Ambassador to the United States, George Maior, to welcome the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis and the First Lady Carmen Iohannis for their first visit to Washington DC with the Romanian community. It was such an honor and privilege to welcome them, to meet them, and to represent Camp K and our State of Utah to DC. I can say the First Lady is a very warm person, and wanted to learn more about our state of Utah. I have dedicated my life to service, and I appreciate all people who dedicate their lives to service of others. Although there are not many ethnics from Romania who live in Utah, I know Utah has a lot of love and appreciation for Romania. Many Utah residents have served an LDS mission in Romania during the last 25 years. I know our Attorney General, Sean Reyes who serves on our Advisory Board, has appreciation for Romania because his wife served a mission over there. So did the son-in-law of our Governor, Gary Herbert. And, very important for me, one of my dear friends and mentors, also a member of our Advisory Board, Clark Ivory now serves as the President of the LDS Mission in Romania. I will take this opportunity to thank him for his service to the people of Romania! Thank you Clark and Christine for your service and dedication!
I have lived in Utah now for over fifteen years, and I love our state. I love our people, and our culture. We certainly live in one of the best places on earth. I have worked and served all these years at Camp K. I love our community, and I am extremely grateful for such a dedicated community towards service. Camp K is so great because of the community we live in. I will take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers, supporters, board members and donors!
A couple of weeks ago I was at a function and one of my friends, Lew Cramer, former President and CEO of World Trade Center, currently the President and CEO of Coldwell Banker’s said something very flattering. He turned to me and Mike, our COO, who’s been serving at Camp K for over 10 years and said: “You two are the best imports to Utah since Stockton and Malone”. I appreciate Lew very much for his very kind words!
I will end this post by thanking our staff for all their dedication to our most amazing students. Finally, I would like to thank our students, and their respective families, for putting their trust in us to provide them with our programs as we strive to have an impact on their lives.