Guest Blog – Shanna Rousseau

Hi All –

In keeping with the theme of Not For Profit Charities, I am thrilled to share the Never Say Never Foundation with you. This one is close to my heart and my families heart. We found them, (or in reality, they found us) a year ago and since then we have had the privilege of attending meets and events with them. Please take a read and see the amazing work that they are doing! – Shannon

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It’s been three short years since I discovered The Never Say Never Foundation (NSN) and I have to say, I am so happy to be a part of the Never Say Never Family! First, let me tell you a little about NSN. The Never Say Never Foundation is a 501c3 charity based in Florida and their mission is to provide support to children and athletes with limb differences so that they might live a full, active, healthy and happy life. NSN was founded in 2009 by Nick Stilwell and Regas Woods, both of whom are bilateral amputees and para-athletes. Regas has recently been named as a member of the 2016 USA Paralympic Track and Field Team and Nick recently competed in his first ParaLong Drive competition and took home third place! These men lead by example and strive to empower amputee children and athletes to achieve their full potential. The dedication and drive of these two men is admirable and they are terrific role models for future para-athletes and those of us normal ol’ able bodied folks, too!

Since 2012, The Never Say Never Foundation has hosted an annual Pirate Camp in beautiful Clearwater Beach, FL. Pirate Camp is an adaptive sailing camp and so much more! Children and their entire families are invited to come to Clearwater and enjoy sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, swimming, skateboarding, arts & crafts, music circles, a visit to the Clearwater Aquarium and a real Pirate Party! NSN hosts families from all over the United States to enjoy a weekend of fun in the sun and on the water — at NO COST TO THE FAMILIES!!!! That’s right. The Never Say Never Foundation’s Annual Pirate Camp is totally FREE to the families who apply and are selected to attend. This year, we will be celebrating our 5th Annual Pirate Camp and it is going to be HUGE! The first Pirate Camp, in 2012 hosted 14 families and this year we anticipate 40 families will attend! Pirate Camp is fully funded by Never Say Never’s fundraising team (of which I am a proud member) and we couldn’t be happier to do what we do. We do this because we feel it’s important to ease the financial burden on the families to attend adaptive camps, because they are so important to their child’s development and confidence! We also don’t take salaries for our board members or founders because we want to help as many kids and young adults as we can. We are the only camp that does this and we do it happily!

Let me tell you about my favorite thing to see from NSN athletes: Blade Face. Blade Face is the look of genuine awe and excitement when NSN gives a child a new running blade. That’s right – NSN gives away running blades to children who are involved with the foundation. Since its inception, NSN has given away more than 50 running blades! Not only do we gift the blades to kids and athletes, but we also use our vast network of amazing prosthetics to make sure that the materials used to fabricate the socket and other essential parts that make up the new running leg are all donated. We’re not just about running legs, but have also helped our athletes receive specialty knees and feet and even racing wheelchairs! We’re also not just about Pirate Camp and equipment – we make it possible for children and athletes to participate in local, regional and national adaptive athletic competitions so that they can experience a playing field full of athletes just like them and broaden their life experiences and boost their self confidence. It’s truly an amazing charity to work with.

The Never Say Never Foundation is the thing in my life I’m most proud to be a part of. Being involved with “Big Nick” and his team, all of the amazing parents, children and athletes that make up the Never Say Never family is so much more than I could ever have imagined. I know that choosing to become involved in Orthotics and Prosthetics (I’m currently working on my Masters Degree and hope to start my residency next summer) was exactly what I was meant to do with my life. I am so happy and thankful that this foundation is part of my life and I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things that The Never Say Never Foundation will be doing in the future.

This year’s 5th Annual Never Say Never Foundation Pirate Camp will be held October 13-16 in Clearwater, FL. If you’d like to contribute to the Never Say Never Foundation, you can donate at www.neversayneverfoundation.org and if you’re interested in volunteering or helping out, in any way, please email the foundation at neversayneverinc@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Shanna Rousseau

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2 Comments

  1. jade

    What an amazing organization. I’m so glad to hear of this opportunity. So often, the tools differently abled folks need are available but financially out of reach. Thanks for the work you do and for sharing it with all of us. <3

    Reply
  2. Shannon Waites (Post author)

    Thank you Shanna for sharing the Never Say Never Foundation with us! I know how much they have touched out lives, and what fun we have had with them! There are camps that provide free tuition for children with disabilities, but one of the amazing things about NSN (and something you touched on) is that NSN pays for the WHOLE family to come! Talk about memories. Giving them the experiences that they might not already get. You guys are so amazing and I am so glad that others got to see how incredible you are!

    Reply

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