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Author: Kyle Klosinksi

ESF 2023 Winter Awards

On January 28th, the ESF Leadership Team came together for a celebration to honor the amazing team members that helped us run a hugely successfully 2022 camp season. We are extremely grateful for everyone’s efforts and are so excited for the 2023 camp season! It will be one filled with special experiences that will allow our campers to continue enjoying what makes ESF Camps unique.

ESF team members who have worked for ESF from 3-20 years were honored for their contribution to our camps. Other awards given were:

The Ichiban Award is given to an individual that is recognized for consistently excelling and going above and beyond in many areas including camper and parent satisfaction, teamwork, leadership, and spirit. The Ichiban is one of the greatest of all Team awards.

The ESF Master Teacher inspires children and displays the most creative, fun, and captivating teaching style, going above and beyond as a teacher each and every day of the summer.

The Mark Solomon Make a Difference Award
Some people make the world a better place just by being in it. Mark Solomon is that type of person. He sees the good and promise in everyone, and he has committed his life to improving the lives of underserved children throughout the world. Wherever he goes and in whatever he does, Mark makes a difference! Mark has played a vital role in the success of Dream Camp Philadelphia since its humble beginnings in 2002. He is an incredible example of philanthropy, social action and stewardship to others, and ESF is tremendously grateful for his support and inspiration. The ESF Team is made up of amazing individuals doing extraordinary things to improve the world each and every day. Each year, ESF recognizes one Team member who has made an especially significant and lasting impact in his/her community with the Mark Solomon Make A Difference Award. Like Mark Solomon, the ESF Team members who receive this award are making a difference, and we salute them for their good works!

The Lucille Santo Award
Founded in 2014, the Lucille Santo Award is an award that recognizes someone on the Executive Team who is doing AMAZING work behind the scenes at headquarters and goes above and beyond to support the mission and intent of the organization.

The Jim Loehr Character Award is one of the highest achievements and bestowed annually to the team member who best represents ESF through extraordinary character and positive contributions to their camp community and inspires others to higher levels of achievement.

Congratulations to our 2022 camp season award recipients! Take a look at our photo album from Saturday’s event!


Young man without legs makes his middle school’s basketball team

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WLKY) – A young man in Kentucky who was born without legs is inspiring others to go after their dreams.

Despite his disability, Josiah Johnson made the basketball team at his middle school in Louisville.

“It’s just like something had to do it. You know?” Josiah said. “I don’t want you to doubt me. I want to show you that I’m just as human as you are. And I’m just as good as you are, if not better than you.”

Josiah has been playing basketball since kindergarten, but this is his first year on a team. He’s never let any limitations slow him down.

“He shows up every day. If we have to do sprints or something like that, he would want them to as well,” his coach, Daquan Boyd, said. “So, that’s very exciting to see him actually get out there and do everything that they tried to do as well.”

Not only did Josiah make the middle school team, but he also started in the game Thursday night.

Watch the video here!

The world’s oldest practicing doctor has become a TikTok sensation. At 100 years old, he says he wants to inspire young people to do what they love.

Dr Howard Tucker holds a Guinness World Record for being the oldest practicing doctor, having begun his career as a neurologist in 1947 and continuing to work on the frontlines for another 75 years, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But more recently, he’s made a big break into viral fame with his new TikTok account. 

Tucker’s grandson, named Austin, and his friend Taylor Taglianetti, who have been making a movie about Tucker for the past year, decided to make a TikTok account for the neurologist as a way to promote their project.

“He struggles with technology, so even being able to explain something like TikTok to him was really tough,” Taglianetti told Insider, and said she and Austin have been filming videos of Tucker to post on the platform during their spare time on set for the film.

Ever since the pair posted their first video of Tucker in July, he’s been explosively popular, gaining hundreds of thousands of views on the platform. Tucker said he doesn’t know why his career “deserves all of this attention,” but he’s hoping to inspire his younger viewers to find a job they’ll still love doing when they’re 100.

Continue reading!

Eakins Forms Fast Friendship with ‘Inspirational Young Man’

Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins spends his summers on the move.

An active guy at heart, Eakins has an unrelenting desire for self-improvement. Over the last few years, the Ducks bench boss has made a habit of traveling to observe prominent coaching staffs across multiple mediums, hoping to learn more about how others manage the challenges of overseeing a complex operation.

This past summer, one of those trips was to Tuscaloosa for some time studying the University of Alabama football program and legendary head coach Nick Saban.

Saban’s reign at the highest peaks of the college football world are well-known, as are his patented snark and obsessive attention to detail. He’s a seven-time national champion, a former NFL head coach and will surely go down as one of the best coaches in the history of the sport.

For Eakins, the trip was a chance to gain some valuable insight in a place much different from home, in the midst of one of the profession’s greats. What he didn’t expect was to meet an influential figure from just down the road, 30 years his junior.

In some ways, Eakins and Alex Chery are quite alike. Chery, a 16-year-old from Newport Beach, is a fitness fiend himself, constantly eager to learn more about self-improvement and what drives elite athletes.

Read more here!

‘Keeping the kids together’: Nonprofit holds Halloween party for children with Autism

PEMBROKE – Alexa Roderick, 6-years-old, of Marshfield, was giggling  as she  came down the slide.

“She really enjoys the slide,” said Hannah Roderick, her mother. “We can’t get her out of the slide.”

More than 170 families  brought their children to the City Arena in Pembroke to enjoy the Autism Inclusion Halloween Party.

“We want to get the kids together and have fun,” said Candice Hartford, founder of Raising Harts. “Our mission is to grow a warm, supportive, and empowering community for families with neurodiverse children in which they can enrich their lives and grow together.”

The first hour of the event was quiet for  those who are sensitive to noises and lights, and the rest of it featured music and lights.

The party  offered many activities for children, such as bouncy houses, face painting, balloon artists, immersive coloring and art centers, a calm-down area and more.

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Tim Shaw’s Courage, Strength and Determination on Full Display in “A Titans Story”

NASHVILLE – Eight years ago, Tim Shaw let the entire world know he’d been diagnosed with ALS.

His body already weakened, and his speech slurred by early signs of the disease, the former Titans linebacker bravely stood in front of teammates, coaches and reporters who watched him fearlessly do his job on football fields, and he made a promise to fight every day.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to hear,” Shaw said of his diagnosis back in 2014, his voice cracking. “Every thought runs through your mind, but as a man you have a choice. What are you going to do? Are you going to stand up and fight for your life? Or are you going to accept what someone else tells you is reality and just fade away?

“As staggering as that news was, and as shocking as it was to hear and to say, I made that choice to stand up and live life to the fullest like I believe I always have.”

Shaw has kept his promise, and he’s inspired those who know him personally, as well as those who’ve grown to admire him from afar.

On Friday, the Tennessee Titans are sharing Shaw’s inspirational story in a video piece called “A Titans Story: Tim Shaw, presented by Permobil” which documents Shaw’s life journey from his days as a little boy to his high school days when he was known as “Touchdown Tim” to his days at Penn State to his six-year career in the NFL, which led him to Tennessee, and the Titans.

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This Indigenous Scientist Helped Save Lives as COVID Devastated the Navajo Nation

“How do you tell a community in the United States that has no running water or electricity to wash their hands?”

Crystal Lee drives hours through dust on Route 66 past the border town of Gallup, N.M., on her way through the parched road to the Navajo Nation in Arizona. She is going to see family who have made it through the pandemic.

“Every single day, I knew of someone who had passed from COVID,” Lee says, staring straight ahead.

Even before the pandemic hit, Lee, a Navajo scientist and assistant professor at the University of New Mexico College of Population Health, had tried to sound the alarm. In 2017 she spoke at the United Nations, warning anyone who would listen that the Navajo Nation did not have the infrastructure or resources to survive a deadly pandemic.

But few did, and when the coronavirus pandemic raged through the Navajo Nation in 2020, it led to the highest death rate per capita in the U.S.—including members of Lee’s family.

In a new documentary short film, Lee brings us into her fight for health equity on the Navajo Nation.

Continue reading!

Landis Sims has no hands or feet but can hit a curveball. His journey is now a movie.

Eric Cochran was looking for an inspirational story eight years ago when he visited a softball team camp for limb-deficient kids in Mission Viejo, Calif., put on by the Wounded Warrior Project.

Cochran, a veteran cinematographer, planted himself in the bleachers. He was there for all of about 90 seconds when he fixed his eyes on an 8-year-old who was working with Matias Ferreira, a former Marine who lost both legs below his knees while serving in Afghanistan in 2011.

“Picture this little, kind of roly poly kid on prosthetic legs and he’s got the bat tucked against his body,” Cochran said. “And he’s just rifling shot after shot and talking smack. I’m like, ‘Who the hell is this kid?’”

Cochran sat and observed Landis Sims for a day, then worked up the courage to ask his mother, Amanda Sims, to talk to him the following day. Cochran was wearing a Boston Red Sox cap. Landis, a New York Yankees fan, immediately let him have it.

“He started giving me crap,” Cochran said. “That’s just kind of how the relationship started.”

Cochran pitched the idea to Amanda of visiting the Sims family at their home in Elizabeth, a rural community near the Ohio River in Harrison County in southern Indiana. “I had no idea the journey it would turn into,” Cochran said.

The result, after eight years, is the inspiring true story of Landis Sims, now 16 years old. The 95-minute documentary — “Landis: Just Watch Me” — chronicles Sims, who was born without hands and feet, as he overcomes obstacles on his journey as he strives to make his high school baseball team at South Central High School.

Continue reading.

Young Woman Who Came From Adversity Now Helps Others

Just about everyone is drawn to a story in which a victim of the most horrific abuse and deprivation overcomes those atrocities to not only become successful but also to help others who had suffered similar abuses. That’s why Geri-Lynn Utter’s life story is so uplifting.

Utter, 40, grew up in Kensington as an only child of drug and alcohol-addicted parents who abused her physically, mentally and emotionally. However, through hard work, intelligence and rock-strong character, Geri-Lynn wound up earning a BA in English/Communications at Cabrini College in Radnor in 2002 and both Master’s and Doctorate degrees in clinical psychology from Chestnut Hill College. (She also worked in radio sales for 10 years while pursuing her graduate degrees.) Today Utter works for the Montgomery County judicial system, interviewing and evaluating the mental health of prison inmates to determine their suitability for possible release. She also works for a pharmaceutical company that has developed a drug that is said to minimize the deleterious consequences of opioid addiction. Continue reading this article here, or watch a video report on Geri Lynn below:

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