Central Region: Marissa "Hydra" McCallough
AARBF’s Central California 2020, awardee is our beloved Marissa “Hydra” McCallough and we can’t wait to share how she came to be a part of our AARBF family.
Hydra is a born and raised Reedley gal, who has always been attracted to water activities, so much so that she became a lifeguard shortly after high school. In 2010, she was a lifeguard for the city of Reedley and was recruited to work for summer camps taking place at Wonder Valley Ranch. Hydra signed up and shared, “that year was life changing, I had never seen or interacted with a burn survivor. I was blown away by all the love and positivity from being there for the week. I let the leader know that I would help out anytime they needed lifeguards and I started working with “Knuckles” the next year.” In total, she lifeguarded for Champ Camp (AARBF’s annual summer camp for burn survivors ages 5-17) for 5 years. She left that first year knowing she wanted to keep coming back. Throughout her volunteering as a lifeguard, she started nursing school and she stated, “Being at camp made me want to become a burn nurse”. As for many people, life happened, and she was unable to start her journey as a camp counselor for a few years but knew she really wanted to and just had to finish nursing school to be able to join. In 2018, Hydra came back to AARBF not as a lifeguard, but as a Champ Camp Counselor for the Wrangler group (ages 11-13) and has chosen to continue to make it a priority and plans life around Champ Camp. She is just that committed and in love with being a part of her “Ohana”, and she refers to her camp family.
In addition to Champ Camp, Hydra is also part of many regional events year-round including the, Monterey Bay Aquarium sleep over, Morro Bay beach Adventure trip and the Holiday Party. She is a local night shift burn nurse at the Leon S. Peters Burn Center and continues to love what she does. In these trying times we appreciate her nursing passion more than ever! Not only does she volunteer through recreational events, she is also a vital part of the CRMC Burn survivor support group and helps to lead the teen and adult support groups on a monthly basis. Last but not least, she spearheaded a Bows for Dough Fundraising Campaign along with the incredible support of her burn unit team. In their 2nd year as a Bows for Dough team, the burn unit raised the most out of all the other teams! Their contributions totaled over 20,000 dollars in 2019 for AARBF.
Hydra continues to be a part of the foundation because, as she so lovely stated, “It has made me who I am. I became a burn nurse and I have a different perspective about burn injuries through my career and my volunteering. Not only do I benefit from being a better person, but I also have become a better nurse, because I feel like I can provide better care to my patients and see their point of view.” She has expressed that she is also grateful she is able to provide more support through a patient’s worst part of their recovery and also post-care. Hydra shared, “I have gained a great family and lifelong friends and I cannot imagine my life without AARBF at all … at all. AARBF is my Ohana.”
Her experience with AARBF includes so many fun memories, one she shared was how she was part of the longest game of “UNO” with a few survivors and counselors during the surf trip! Along with fun memories, there are also many heartfelt ones like being able to be alongside a survivor and their journey through the hospital and into the post-care and being able to see how positive their mindset has turned and how well they continue to progress in their life!
We appreciate your heart and dedication to the burn community Hydra and wish that you and your team are safe and well! We are so thankful you are part of AARBF!
Northern Region: Brooke "Gidget" Cappa
The 2020, AARBF Northern California Survivor Services Award goes to Brooke “Gidget” Cappa!
Gidget is a pediatric Occupational Therapist for Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. About 5 years ago, when she began working at the hospital, her colleagues kept mentioning Champ Camp and the Foundation. AARBF provides in-hospital services and is well connected to Saint Francis. One day she was working with a young pediatric patient and during the therapy session to help the patient with burns on both legs walk, she decided that they would both dress up. Once they were decked out in tulle, capes and crowns they began their hunt game and were walking down the halls. Turns out, perfect timing brought Apollo to this same hallway at the precise moment. He spotted Gidget and said to her, that they needed to talk about camp ASAP! Apollo explained camp further and since this was not her first time hearing about it, she decided that she did want to join but had to wait one more year to be able to attend. Once she became a counselor she was immediately hooked and understood why her walking down the hallway in a costume with a patient so effortlessly made her such a perfect recruit!
Not only has Gidget been a counselor for the past 3 years and counting, she is also involved in many of the regional events year-round! She is also a great leader along with her Saint’s team in raising funds for AARBF year after year!
Gidget shared, “I am really proud to be a part of AARBF, you guys feel like another family. I love you all as people and what AARBF stands for, it all hits my heart strings. Whatever I can do to help support and make things better, it is meaningful to me.” She also mentioned a funny memory was when her campers tried to teach her and her co-counselors how to “floss”! Because of this, she continues to volunteer for AARBF in many different aspects and looks forward to many more years!
We are so thankful that Gidget is part of the AARBF family and is such a strong advocate in both the medical world, and volunteer world! She is always willing to attend any event that needs help and is loved by so many.
Southern Region: Stacey "Snoopy" Shames
The Survivor Services Awardee for Southern California 2020, is Stacey “Snoopy” Shames!
Snoopy is a Ranchero (campers ages 8-10) Champ Camp Counselor, a burn nurse and a whole-hearted individual. She started volunteering at Champ Camp in 1999 and has not missed a single year in the past 20 years! Before coming to camp, she volunteered in the Southern office with administration work back in 1996. She found out about the Foundation through donating to AARBF while taking an EMT class. Through her years at camp, she started nursing school and after being a part of Champ Camp and meeting inspiring individuals such as “Redhawk” she decided to pursue her career as a burn nurse.
Snoopy loves AARBF so much that she volunteers for as many events as she can year-round! In addition to Champ Camp, she also attends The Getaway, Surf Trip, Burn Relay, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Young Adult Summit (YAS), Holiday Parties, Day at the Park, Halloween Party and Ski Trip! Additionally, she also fundraises for AARBF through the Bows for Dough Campaign. Snoopy has devoted her life to the burn survivor community and is such an essential individual to AARBF!
Snoopy let AARBF know that, “I really love the organization, and everything it does. I love seeing the kids grow up and do great things with their life and flourish. Although it makes me feel old … Getting kids to camp and watching them just be kids means so much. Kids out in the real world are mean enough when you don’t have something different about you, so it makes it that much better to see them gain self-confidence and try new things at camp. It is also fun, and I love it!”
We appreciate everything you do for us and the community, Snoopy! We look forward to having you continue to be a part of our family for many more years!