A favorite attraction of the Columbus Fire Department, Tilly the miniature fire truck, made a special appearance at the Hoosier Burn Camp last week.
The weeklong camp, located at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, hosts burn survivors ages 8 to 18 and provides programs designed to build self-esteem and develop friendships with other burn survivors.
Columbus Fire Chief Dave Allmon, master mechanic Mark Williams, and fire inspectors Matt Noblitt and Norvin Williams took the trip to deliver Tilly for the camp’s visitors day event. The visit was almost canceled when the trailer hauling Tilly had a flat tire, but firefighters were able to get Tilly to the burn camp and replace the tire upon arrival.
Tilly led other fire apparatuses through the camp during a parade, carrying campers along the route. Tilly also gave rides to campers and guests throughout the remainder of the day.
“The week our kids have at camp gives them a break from the stares and questions they often get,” said Mark Koopman, executive director of Hoosier Burn Camp. “With Hoosier Burn Camp, their scars are normal, the other kids have had similar experiences, and for a week they can be ‘just one of the kids.’”
This year’s camp hosted about 100 kids and 60 staff, according to Decatur Township Fire Chief Pascal Arnes. The camp is open to any Hoosier child hospitalized by a burn injury and is supported by donations.
Tilly, which is also supported by donations, turned out to be a hit with the campers, as well as those in attendance for visitors day, and received an invitation to return for next year’s camp.