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The camp that some kids say is 'better than Disneyland'

MDA camp allows kids with Muscular Dystrophy to just be kids.
Credit: KSDK

FREDERICKTOWN, Mo. — A photograph can only capture a moment, and there aren't enough gigabytes to capture all the special moments at MDA camp.

"MDA Camp is the best week of the year," Camp Director Therese Gabriel said.

Whether it's catching a fish or taking a dip in the pool, this is a place where kids with Muscular Dystrophy can just be kids.

"There's no limits," one volunteer said.

Jonna Dukes, 16, has something called Merosin-Deficient Congenital MD, which doesn't allow your body to function as it should. She wasn't sure camp was the right place for her.

"My doctor was like, 'Oh you should go to MDA Camp,' and I'm like, 'No, I don't do people,'" she said with a laugh. "And my mom is like, 'Oh you should go,' and I said, 'I don't do people.'" 

But it turns out, people like her counselor Kara Wogtech are the reasons she comes back every summer.

"You just have these long-lasting friendships that you know somebody is there for you," Wogtech told us.

Joseph Alexander feels the same way.

"It had me hooked from the start," he said. "I mean it was unreal. The bond that you built with those kids."

Alexander and his sister Jaclyn volunteer every year to support their brother Jace, who said it isn't always easy to be different.

"When everyone goes off to do their own sport or hang out playing football or basketball, that's hard to sit there and watch," he said.

But at camp, instead of standing out because of his wheelchair, Jace stands out because of who he is.

"He doesn't want to leave and as soon as he gets home he's already looking forward to next year," Jaclyn said.

"These kids, this is often the first time that someone else is caring for them and when someone else cares for you, you begin to have a voice and you begin to learn how to advocate," Gabriel explained.

When you face tough challenges every other week of the year, it's nice to know that there's one place where it's all good.

MDA Camp.  A week of moments that turn into memories.

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