CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Summer camp gives young people experiences of a lifetime, and for one south Charlotte family, it means even more.
Ada Miller credits Camp Boomerang, which is put on by the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, for giving her a chance to make what some consider a miraculous recovery.
“Well, don’t make me cry!” said Miller, explaining how Camp Boomerang meets special needs with a lot of heart.
The annual camp at Hemby Program Center is geared towards kids with neurotypical children and diverse abilities.
Miller’s eight-year-old twins, Avi and Ariella, are on the autism spectrum.
“My son [Avi] is not verbal. And if he was, he would probably say the same; they count the days down for camp,” Ada said.
While the kids counted down, Ada counted on the summer day camp when the family needed it most.
“I had a very rare double stroke almost two years ago, and I definitely am a miracle case,” she said.
Ada was temporarily paralyzed and hospitalized for a month. Because of COVID restrictions, she was separated from her family. Ada showed us a photo taken when a nurse wheeled her outside just so she could see her children.
The following summer, she continued to recover, and she says being able to drop her kids off at summer camp gave her peace of mind.
“With the type of stroke that I had, I needed to rest,” Miller said. “If I didn’t have Camp Boomerang, I really don’t know if I’d be able to physically get well as fast as I did.”
While she’s bounced back relatively quickly, Avi is very much a work in progress. Being away from his mother for so long was especially difficult for him.
“It was very traumatizing for him,” Ada said, telling us his vocabulary went from six words to virtually none.
Now, she longs for the one word she’d love to hear again.
“‘Mom’…” she said, pausing for a moment. “I said don’t make me cry! But he’s happy. And everyone knows — here — he’s happy.”
Her resilience and devotion have not gone unnoticed.
“She’s the best mom I ever had,” her daughter Ariella said. “She’s not like any mom.”
“I had to get better; I had to,” said Ada.
In her mind, there was just no other choice.
“This is camp—this is YMCA— so you know I can give a little shout-out to God,” she said.
We think of summer camp as a rite of passage, but in some cases, it can be that and so much more. To the Miller family, Camp Boomerang was the right place at an overwhelming time.
“It’s been very difficult to find a camp to meet those needs, but in a loving way,” she said.