On Monday, May 28, the church is asking for motorcycle escorts to take Carmen Schleppy to Brookston, Ind., for Hoosier Burn Camp (HBC). The event, called Stop Drop and Roll Ride, will meet at the church, located at 413 Walnut St., and leave at 9 a.m.
May 2 marks one year since Carmen's accident. The child, a first-grader at the time, suffered third-and fourth-degree burns on approximately 60 percent of her body, after her skirt caught fire near her living room fireplace.
Carmen, daughter of Anthony and Colleen Schleppy, was a patient at Riley Hospital for Children for three months in the Intensive Care Burn Unit, undergoing nine different skin graft and debrisment surgeries.
"Carmen is still her witty, outgoing self who lets nothing get in her way," Anthony said. "She is still very strong willed -- like she's always been -- and still strives to be the best she can be. She is still going strong with tumbling and exhibition cheer. She has come quite a long way with her tumbling since she started back up in January."
Her father explained Carmen is able to fall into a bridge but can't get up yet, and she is doing cartwheels with only a little help.
"She can't point her toes straight enough yet, but it will come in due time," Anthony said. "She rocks at her stretches and even does them at home before practicing cartwheels."
Carmen is also doing well academically, as she has been on the A/B honor roll for almost the entire year.
"We are very proud of her because her academics created an obstacle she had to work through," Anthony said. "Her medications had a lot to do with her difficulty of being able to keep up in the beginning. We are happy to be past all of that."
First Baptist Church would also like to give T-shirts to each of the children at the HBC. Reverend Mark Thompson said they are looking for T-shirt sponsors at a cost of $50.
He asked for no alcohol-related sponsors. The church will also be accepting donations for the cost of the T-shirts or the camp in general.
HBC is run entirely from donations and fundraisers, making it a free experience for burn victims. The camp's purpose is to help adolescent burn victims improve their self-esteem and self-image by being at a place where they can feel comfortable doing everyday activities such as swimming and playing without being looked at as "different" due to the scarring and deformities the burns may have caused. The camp creates an environment where the children can learn from each other's experiences, stimulating independence and giving children the life skills they need to fully recover from burn injuries. The weeklong camp is for burn survivors -- ages 8-18.
This will be Carmen's first year at HBC.
"After all she's been through, she definitely deserves to have this sort of fun in her life," Anthony said. "She will be able to relate to these other boys and girls, as well as the counselors. Some of the counselors went to the camp as burn survivors as well."
For more information, to sponsor T-shirts or to make a donation, contact Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thompson asked that any other area children planning to attend Hoosier Burn Camp are welcome to be a part of this event. He asked that the parents contact him so their child can also be supported in this cause.