“Beware the mundane, the comfortable, the lackluster or the negative. We are, by nature, brutal with our criticisms of others. We tend to take the microwaveable, quick and easy approach to life, to problems, to challenges. Step out of your comfort zone. Find your passion.” – Stormi Murtie, The Center for Courageous Kids
Over the past 25 years, custom t-shirts have increasingly become a form of mass communication. Used for advertising and promotion, to show one’s alliegence to a team, or to champion a cause or charity, custom t-shirts give you an opportunity to share your message with everyone you meet.
One of our core values at BlueCotton is to help our customers share their message through quality custom products. When I first met Stormi Murtie, communications director for The Center for Courageous Kids, I didn’t realize that I was meeting an inspirational powerhouse that would help BlueCotton make this core value more tangible.
She told me about the 20 million dollar state-of-the-art medical camping facility in nearby Scottsville, KY and invited BlueCotton to visit and learn about their mission to provide a “cost-free, safe and fun camping experience for seriously ill and disabled children and their families.”
After touring the grounds, meeting their staff, bowling in their bowling alley, and learning about the kids and familes they serve, we knew that BlueCotton had an opportunity and desire to share The Center for Courageous Kids’ message with our nationwide audience of customers and friends.
Stormi was kind enought to sit down with us and answer a few questions about what CCK is all about. Please watch the video above and find out why she is so passionate about her work and why BlueCotton is committed to sharing CCK’s message. You will be as inspired and moved as we were!
Can you describe CCK as if I knew nothing about it?
The Center for Courageous Kids (a.k.a. “CCK”) is a “medical camp”, which means we try to provide what you would think of as “traditional camping experiences” to medically fragile kids. However, to refer to CCK as a “camp” would be like calling Harvard a junior college. A medical camp has a medical center, we need to provide dialysis, chemotherapy and a plethora of other procedures as well as administer a gazillion medicines throughout the camper’s stay. We ALSO have a ridiculously fun equestrian center, an awesome indoor pool, an honest-to-goodness bowling alley, great food, wheelchair accessible everything – in short, we need to be stellar in every way. These kids have weakened immune systems, so our staff and facility have to kick up the standards and provide over the top care, respect and fun. Additionally, we run year round – we offer two programs, one program runs for 22 weekends throughout the school year where the entire family can attend with their ill child, and another program in the summer where for 9 weeks we serve 128 kids at a time. It’s an ambitious calendar. This is a pretty magnificent facility and program, costing nearly $20 million to construct, and $3 million a year to operate. And one final mega-important piece of this organizational structure is that we do not charge the campers or their families one penny to attend. They attend FREE OF CHARGE. We run solely on donations, from individuals, businesses, health partners, corporations and foundations who have a heart for the medically fragile children we serve. That’s a long paragraph of explanation – but the scope and magnitude of what we do here is pretty huge!
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
What a great question. Hmm. Just one? How about the superpower to bring “bucket lists” to fruition? That moment where you dust off those “things I want to do” lists and actually DO them. If working with these inspirational kids and parents has taught me anything it’s that we have to LIVE the lives we’re given – whatever our shortcomings or challenges. I’d love to take your hand and read your mind enough to say “I see you’ve always wanted to go skydiving. What’s stopping you? Let’s go!”
Tell us about your favorite t-shirt – where did it come from? Why is it your favorite?
I asked our friends at BlueCotton to design a t-shirt in memory of our Founder, Ms. Betty. What they created was so perfect, it just made me cry.
What will CCK be like 10 years from now?
We opened in February 2008 and have served 10,000 kids and family members from 31 states and Canada thus far. I can only imagine how that figure will have “blown-up” in the next ten years. I anticipate we will have the same stellar focus on the kids we serve, the same fiscal responsibility, the dedicated staff of professionals and the hundreds of annual volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to CCK. What I also anticipate I will see as I survey the 168 acre campus in 10 years, is a forest of trees planted in memory of those campers who have left us too soon.
Name something you carry with you all the time.
Ms. Betty gave me a necklace, it’s an angel holding a small diamond and it represents the “gems” we have here at CCK, and the godly work that we do. And it reminds me of her and why we are here, on this piece of land, in her hometown of Scottsville, KY. It also reminds me, every day, to keep dreaming big dreams.
What’s your favorite part of CCK?
That question makes me laugh, because when I do a tour, every building I walk into I say “THIS is my favorite building!” I love it all. The land, the work, each program area, our mission, our staff, our focus. This is the real deal. My favorite part of CCK IS CCK. Roger and I stood here with the cows, on this land that was former farm land of Ms. Betty’s daddy. Back then, it was only a dream, and we envisioned all you see now. It began with Ms. Betty asking Roger and me to have a commitment to create a stellar world-class facility, one of only a hand full of medical camps of this caliber nation-wide. To stand back and look at it now, it gives me chills. My favorite part? All of it. Every inch, every blade of grass, every echo of laughter.
What’s the biggest challenge of your work?
It’s always fundraising. To run a quality non-profit, it is a 365 day a year challenge. We are always seeking donors from across the country who believe in the mission of The Center for Courageous Kids and want to invest in the smiles of these brave youngsters. Without them, we could not do what we do.
If you had 30 seconds of airtime on every major network, what would you broadcast?
The power of the press is staggering. Wow. If I had 30 seconds on every major network, after I picked myself up off the floor, I think I’d like a camper to speak, and I think I’d just like them to say how they feel about this magical place, while images of them rolling in spaghetti and splashing new friends at poolside and sitting atop a horse are on the screen. And I would hope they would say “please give” and show our website, www.courageouskids.org And maybe folks would see that and go to their computers and check us out, and call us, and visit us, and send their kids to us, and volunteer with us – and from that one 30 seconds, amazing things would happen. That would be cool, right?
The best movie you’ve seen in the last year is:
I wish I could say I’d been to a bunch of movies in the last year, but I have not. Some might call me a workaholic. I did however recently rent “The Help” which I liked very much.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Beware the mundane, the comfortable, the lackluster or the negative. We are by nature brutal with our criticisms of others. We tend to take the microwaveable, quick and easy approach to life, to problems, to challenges. Step out of your comfort zone. Find your passion.
Find out how you can help!