Alisa Ann Ruch was a Southern Californian who lost her life in a backyard barbecue accident at the age of 8. Her parents along with local firefighters and medical professionals started the AARBF in 1971. Shortly after, the AARBF became the first program to teach the now famous technique ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll’ in schools. To this day, burn and fire prevention is the foundation’s main goal. As Development Manager Evan Scher told me, “The best way to stop the hurt caused by fires and burns is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. “
Each summer the AARBF invites 130 burn survivors ages 5-16 to their week-longChamp Camp at Wonder Valley in Sanger, California. Champ Camp is free to all burn survivors and is fully staffed by medical doctors, nurses, program staff, volunteers and counselors. This crew also includes adult burn survivors and firefighters. Activities at the camp include fishing, horseback riding, crafts, canoeing, archery, water slides, and team building activities. It provides a safe environment where burn survivors can play, learn, grow, gain self-esteem, and make new friends.
According to burn survivor Nhi Vo, attending Champ Camp was the catalyst for her metamorphosis. “It was where I learned what it meant to be happy. Before attending the camp, I just wanted to be invisible so people did not have to stare at my scars. When I attended Champ Camp, I saw that many of the campers were not wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to hide their scars like I did. Instead, they accepted their injuries and didn’t let the scars define who they were. Motivated, I decided to put away my cloak of invisibility and started to wear clothing that signified I was no longer ashamed of my burns.”
Each President’s Day weekend, AARBF also hosts the Young Adult Summit for 25 teenage burn survivors. The retreat helps the teens adopt a sense of independence and adapt to the changes that come with attending high school and college. Workshops and exercises engage teens in life skills lessons, team building, and networking.
Thanks to your help, the Chive Fund was able to make a $50,000 grant to the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. The grant will help send burn survivors to programs like Champ Camp and the Young Adult Summit as well as aid in fire and burn education/prevention.