Georgina was born very prematurely with a heart problem and spent most of her early years receiving outstanding medical care at BC Children’s Hospital. While undergoing open heart surgery to repair the VSD in her heart, she was diagnosed with a partially missing chromosome, making her 1 out of 3 children that have this condition in North America. This diagnosis meant that, because of the unknowns of her rare diagnosis, support services and groups were not as relevant or available and her family was mostly left to deal with the diagnosis on their own. Down syndrome, autism, and other well-known conditions have very active advocates and fundraising. Unfortunately, this is not the same for Georgina’s condition, which remains unnamed and misunderstood even 21 years later!
Georgina is a very happy girl and her enthusiasm for life is tremendous and contagious with everyone she meets. Amongst the challenges she faces is the inability to recognize that not everyone she meets may be friendly or as true-spirited as she is, leaving her more vulnerable if not in a safe and caring environment. Georgina is small in stature but big in personality. She has the verbal and mental skills of a younger person around the ages of 4 to 6 years old. To keep her safe, her parents constantly monitor her social interactions.
Every day, Georgina’s parents work hard to ensure Georgina lives as full a life as possible – with day programs, work experience, courses at Douglas College, active participation in Special Olympics programs, Challenger baseball, and her favorite activity, horse-riding at PRDA in Langley! As her parent’s age, they worry about what is going to happen next for Georgina but they are providing for her the best that they can alongside her loving extended family group.
Georgina’s Experience at Zajac Ranch
Georgina and her family discovered the Zajac Ranch for Children’s summer medical camp program through a family friend whose daughter attended. She has been going to both weeks of the Mixed Diagnosis Camps ever since. Her favorite activity at Zajac Ranch is, not surprisingly, Horseback riding! However, she is also very fond of her, “camp connections,” with her peers and Zajac Ranch staff.
At her first camp Georgina was very nervous, to the point she didn’t want to be left there. However, the excellent Zajac team soon got her over the first-night jitters. Now it has become the highlight of her summer and she asks repeatedly when can she go again! She is now at the point where she is waving goodbye to us as soon as we drop her off. Clearly, Georgina loves the independence she has at camp, reconnecting with friends that she has, and making new ones with fellow campers and staff members, the well thought out activities for all abilities, and the excellent food she enjoys. She never would have tried rock climbing without Zajac and being the center of attention at some of the get-togethers is where we have seen her grow as a person. The relationship with Zajac is great for Georgina, and gives her family, her primary caregivers, some relief – although they lament that the house is very quiet without her and they miss her dreadfully!
It is important that Zajac Ranch for Children’s donors and sponsors understand that their help could not go to a more deserving faction of youth. After 10 years, Georgina and her family have made friends with other campers and their parents, which has brought them together as a stronger community. Her family provides the acclaim that, “The Zajac organization is very well run from its communications, and onsite medical care, to its accommodation for the diverse abilities and backgrounds of campers. The facility on Stave Lake is remarkable in its cleanliness, upkeep, and activity offerings. The Zajac Foundation truly cares about the services they provide to these children & young adults. The happiness and growth it brings to the campers cannot be overstated!”