How much love can one person give? We all live busy lives. We may have visions helping others, but often the realities of our own commitments take over and those hopes are unrealized. One Charlotte, North Carolina man shows that, even with our overloaded lives, there is no limit to the amount of love one person can spread.
Over two decades ago, Bob Bowler, a working father of five, and a coach for many of his kids sports, decided he wanted to do more. “I just wanted to be involved with community and be good role model, teach kids to give back, help others and those in need.”
With his coaching background, he and his kids started working with the Special Olympics, and it opened up a whole new world for him. “When I started with the special needs, with the love, caring and sharing that they give back, I said this is for me and a great lesson to teach my kids about love.”
But Bob had a bigger vision. He wanted to create summer camp just for people with intellectual disabilities: to break down the barrier of special needs, and give them the same safe and fulfilling summer experience that most kids enjoy. “Everybody said ‘I don’t think you could pull it off. I said watch me.”
He started “Camp Soar” himself: 54 campers and a handful of volunteers participated in sports, arts and other activities. It was a week-long event that, for the campers, was completely free. Who was on the fundraising team to get the money to pay for all of this? One man. Bob Bowler.
15 years after that first summer, Bob Bowler’s camp still soars. It now hosts 365 campers, and Bob says the over 400 volunteers that now come get even more out of it. “It teaches about life and giving back and teaches them to appreciate life and loving, caring, sharing and how to help each other.” Bob says many of the volunteers become lifelong friends with the campers.
All of this is still completely free for all … and still has the unstoppable tornado of love that is Bob Bowler leading the charge.
“I get the love, the hugs, knuckles, high fives, smiles and knowing they are having a beautiful experience. they get the self esteem, self confidence, self awareness, and have the community come together for togetherness. With a lot of love.”
For more information on Camp Soar go to http://sonc.net/camp-soar/