Big Jump: Summer Staff Spotlight


Our summer staff have poured their hearts and souls into camp, and now they’re taking the extra leap by skydiving and fundraising for our campers! They have been working so incredibly hard to make camp magical for our campers, and some have pledged to raise $600 to send a camper to camp and skydive for them. During these trying times, our families need more support than ever and our summer staff have dedicated their time to provide relief for them. Meet our summer staff heroes that will be jumping on July 18!

Red

Jumping for the red team will be Sydney, Edward, Griffin, Sarah, and Nora! 

Griffin knows firsthand how the magic of summer camp can make a participant flourish!

Griffin says that, “Big Jump is important to me because at ESP, seeing all of our participants grow and thrive in that environment is a very inspiring thing, and there is nothing better than being able to see all the love and joy that goes around at camp!” 

Sarah was a development intern last semester and loved ESP so much, she decided to stick around and be a Family Engagement Leader for the red site this summer!

“I fell in love with ESP not only because of friends like Ryan who made a huge impact on my life, but because of how I saw Extra Special People’s staff members + volunteers show love, attention, respect, and FRIENDSHIP to Ryan and all of our other participants,” said Sarah. We’re so grateful for her facing her fears and jumping with the red site!

Nora is a unit specialist for team red at Athens Church! Nora has been involved in ESP all the way since 2012! Nora loves that everyone at camp becomes a big family, and every summer, and she wants other campers to experience the love as well. That’s why she’s jumping to make sure any ESP participant can attend summer camp.

We can’t wait to cheer them on next month!

Donate to the red team: https://extraspecialpeople.kindful.com/big-jump-2020/red-team-groovy-summer

Orange

Jumping for the orange  team will be Caroline, Lexi, Hallie, Kaitlyn, Avery, Jack, and Bart! 

Lexi’s motivation for jumping comes from a memory of her buddy, Lenaee, from last summer! Lenaee was going through a really hard time, but after being her buddy, Lexi got Lenaee to participate in the activities by the end of the week! At Fun Friday, her sister, fellow jumper Hallie, found out that Lenaee loves bubbles and playing with chalk. They got her to laugh and smile the whole time!

“I think what makes ESP so special is that my sister gets to do it with me, and we both love working to see the kids smile and have fun,” said Lexi.

Kaitlyn is a longtime friend of ESP and worked summer staff last year. When she was paired with her buddy Charlie, they became fast friends. Kaitlyn has volunteered at Big Hearts, summer camp, and been an intern!

“I love ESP  because it gives me an opportunity to give back to the community and give our participants the best experiences that they can have. Seeing them grow throughout programs truly warms my heart and keeps me wanting to come back,” said Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn is a fourth year sports management major and is at the orange site this summer!

Avery is one of our amazing AmeriCorps members! He is a Family Engagement Leader and helps ESP with family events, connecting with families, running his Extra Fitness class, and new parent meetings. He heard about ESP through our Development Coordinator, Tyler King.

“ESP has provided me an opportunity to learn how to interact with a population that is completely new to me. Along with this, my job has given me insight to the range of challenges that can be faced by families. I believe these learning experiences will help me provide effective care to a larger range of individuals in the future,” said Avery. Avery plans on starting medical school soon and we’re so excited for him to take to the skies!

Emma, known as Bart, is a unit leader at the orange site! Emma has been volunteering at ESP since Big Hearts 2018, and absolutely loves the energy of camp and all of the love that forms between the staff, campers, and volunteers. No matter how she’s feeling, camp will always be a great time! This is why she’s taking the leap for ESP’s campers this summer!

Donate to the orange team: https://extraspecialpeople.kindful.com/big-jump-2020/orange-team-groovy-summer

Purple

Jumping  for the purple team will be Renn, Rose, Matt, Maggie, and McKenzie! 

Our Crossroads site manager, Matt, started at ESP six years ago, and has been working here for two! Matt is jumping on behalf of his best friend at ESP, Thomas! He loves Thomas’s energy and contagious smile, and says that they are a loud and fun dynamic duo during camp! Thomas loves to say “jump, jump, jump” when he wants help standing up, or just wants to dance! He may love to “jump”, but although he isn’t able to participate in Big Jump himself, Matt is doing it for him! 

Maggie loves the bond that forms between campers and staff at ESP, and wants to share that with others!

“I want to see participants experience the same ESP magic that I have experienced. My favorite memory was completing my first week of summer camp and receiving so much love from each camper, parent, volunteer, and staff,” said Maggie. She hopes to show campers that she’s “on their side” by jumping!

McKenzie is a unit specialist this summer! She has been involved at ESP for five years now, and has been working here for four. McKenzie has been around our participants for many years, and knows the impact camp can have on their lives.

“ESP has been a huge part of my life for almost six years, so I’ve been able to experience so many incredible moments! Every day brings a new and fun experience for our participants and I love to watch them shine,” said McKenzie. 

We can’t wait to see the purple team soar to new heights!

Donate to the purple team: https://extraspecialpeople.kindful.com/big-jump-2020/purple-team-groovy-summer

Green

Jumping for the green team will be Haley, Lilly, Ryan, Amanda, Madison, Abby, Mollie, Addison, Kristy, and Betsy! 

Lilly is a communications intern at ESP this summer! Lilly has a brother with a disability, and says that she’s so passionate about ESP, “because of the care they provide families and their participants. ESP provides opportunities and helps people with disabilities reach their goals.”

Lilly is putting herself out of her comfort zone so that more participants can experience the magic of camp!

Ryan is accepting the Big Jump challenge because of how special ESP is to him. Ryan says that at ESP, participants “can engage, connect and thrive while doing activities such as fishing, baseball, talent shows, and sliding down a giant inflatable water slide! While these campers get to have SO much fun at camp, we are also working to help them improve on individualized skills and abilities to maintain goal-oriented growth.” 

Madison is jumping for her buddy, Gwen!

“I am jumping for Gwen because of the memories and friends she makes while at ESP! She loves all things slime, water slides, and big hugs. At camp Gwen gets to not only show off her amazing talents and abilities, but also experience new opportunities.”

Abby says that “any way that I can make an opportunity for individuals at ESP to thrive is what I am going to do! Even if that means jumping out of a plane!” She says that she’s going to put her fear of height aside to support the individuals at ESP who have impacted her in ways she could never imagined!

Mollie has only been at summer camp for a short time, but she can already see how important it is to everyone that has the opportunity to go!

“Each day at camp we ask campers to step out of their comfort zones, so I have decided to do the same… I will be jumping out of a plane to help send individuals of all abilities to ESP’s summer camp,” said Mollie.  

Kristy says that “working and volunteering at ESP has been a truly life-changing experience!”

She believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make memories of a lifetime at summer camp, and hopes that she can help reach this goal by jumping!

Donate to the green team: https://extraspecialpeople.kindful.com/big-jump-2020/green-team-groovy-summer

Yellow

Jumping for the yellow team will be Cathleen, Thomas, Meg, Jack, Mary Lyn, Ben, Kelly, and Hunter!

Mary Lyn is so excited to be working as a counselor this summer, and will be jumping as part of the yellow site! She says that her and her team are doing everything they can to make sure as many participants as possible have the opportunity to experience summer camp! Mary Lyn understands that our participants face fears and challenges daily.

She says that doing Big Jump “is showing them that we are on the same side, ready to face our fears, and stand with them to ensure that they get the most meaningful experiences possible with us at ESP!”

Mary Lyn doesn’t care that people might think she’s crazy by skydiving, she’s just excited to “jump out of a plane for some of the coolest people I know.”

Shanel is a counselor at the yellow site and has been at ESP for two summers. Shanel is afraid of heights, but knows that this skydiving adventure is bigger than herself.

“With this decision I’m also choosing to stand with my friends at ESP, and support them through fears greater than mine that they experience each day. Summer camp gives these individuals opportunities to succeed,” said Shanel. Shanel loves how welcoming ESP is, and that it is a place for individuals with disabilities to thrive daily. She understands that these campers are always facing new challenges and overcoming fears, and that’s just what she wants to do herself with Big Jump! 

Chloe has been at ESP for eight years, and is a unit leader! Chloe has seen the struggles some of our families go through, and wants to help them in any way she can.

“Our participants and their families are faced with scary situations daily whether it be financially, medically, or even socially. This is my chance to show my support for all ESP families by doing something scary too. ESP has taught me that the scary is a little less scary when you have ESP friends supporting and cheering you on,” said Chloe. 

Ben is a unit leader this summer! He started volunteering at ESP two summers ago after looking for opportunities to engage with the Athens community. He fell in love with ESP and its people, which is why he wants to take the leap to support as many campers as he can! 

Donate to the yellow team: https://extraspecialpeople.kindful.com/big-jump-2020/yellow-team-groovy-summer

Blue

Jumping for the blue team will be Lindsey, Claire, Nanette, Marlee, Delaney, and Julia! 

Nanette’s twin brother, Nathan, and his experience with ESP is what’s inspiring her to take the leap this year! “Knowing that ESP is his favorite place to be at absolutely motivates me to raise money for more people to attend camp! He radiates so much positivity and joy, and I would love to see more smiling faces at ESP in the future,” says Nanette. 

“I am raising money to help my friends attend summer camp,” said Marlee, and she is no stranger to ESP. She was a 360 intern and is one of the loudest staff members we have! Marlee graduated from UGA with a B.S.F.C.S. in Human Development and Family Science. Our campers love Marlee, and she is excited to be jumping out of a plane for ESP. 

Delaney has been involved with ESP the moment she stepped foot on UGA’s campus! She is involved with ESP@UGA, Dress Down with the Dawgs, summer camp, and every event in between. She works at Chick-fil-A and is always an advocate for our special friends. She is ready to represent the blue team, and will be jumping out of a plane for her friends!

Julia knows how much a successful Big Jump can impact ESP because it’s one of our largest fundraisers!

“So much magic happens at summer camp and these dollars we are diving for helps us give these kids and adults the best summer ever. Especially with all that’s going on, this summer is more crucial than ever,” said Julia.

Donate to the blue team: https://extraspecialpeople.kindful.com/big-jump-2020/blue-team-groovy-summer

Our summer staff is doing their part to support campers, and so can you! Donate to our teams at: https://extraspecialpeople.kindful.com/big-jump-2020

We hope to see you all on July 18!