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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Shore Respite Lifts Blind Youths’ Spirits

By Leslie Truluck

AVALON –– A piano echoes through the hall as Kayla Richardson of Hillside plays an original song for camp counselor Mary Forr.
A table lined with children draws pictures in crayon as others cheerfully sing while working on Braille writers.
It’s a typical day at Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children, packed with activities for visually-impaired youth aged 7 to 15.
The home hosts a new group of children each week from June 21 to Aug. 16. During their stay, children enjoy amusement rides at Morey’s Piers, crabbing, riding the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, performing talent shows, boat rides and beach trips.
All campers participate regardless of the extent of their vision loss, with counselors’ assistance, while establishing relationships with other children who may have similar visual impairments.
Four times a season the home staff takes campers to the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor for a boat ride around the bay, coordinated by sponsor Dick Corkhill.
On July 25, Capt. David Sotter took 9-year-old campers Natanne Norman of Philadelphia and Brian Woolbert of Egg Harbor Township for a cruise on his personal boat.
“Let me know when we speed up. Let me know when we slow down…and don’t tilt the boat,” Woolbert nervously requested.
Several campers came from cities and had never before been aboard a boat. Norman commented bay water “looks like Jell-O.”
The non-profit camp is entirely free to the children’s parents. It’s made possible through donations from Tim Kerr Charities, Avalon Lions Club, The Little Rock Foundation, The William G. and Helen C. Hoffman Foundation.
The Helen L. Diller home was named in 1970 in honor of a community member who made significant contributions towards the well being of blind children, Director Jennifer Layton told the Herald.
Counselor Megan Ashbridge said her father was involved with the home during its inception.
The vacation home is part of the Challenged Children’s Charity Corporation. Councilman Charles Covington is vice-president of the Board of Directors.
Contact Truluck at (609) 886-8600 ext. 24 or at: ltruluck @cmcherald.com.

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