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January 2023 Burn Bulletin

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January 2023 Burn Bulletin

A Winter Celebration with Friends

We started the month of December with our friends at the UC Irvine Regional Burn Center for their Winter Celebration on December 1st.

AARBF pals Daniel, Andrew, Cindy, Bob, Leslie, and so many others got to meet Santa, connect with families, and enjoy amazing entertainment and crafts. We appreciate UC Irvine Regional Burn Center for inviting us to celebrate the season with them!

AARBF’s Regional Holiday Parties Kick Off in the Central Valley

On Saturday, December 3rd, we welcomed burn survivors and their families to the Clovis Rodeo Grounds in the Central Valley. We had fifty-five guests in attendance enjoying gifts for every child, tables of arts and crafts, a cookie decorating station, pictures with Santa, and a whole lot of holiday cheer! Thank you to all of the families who came out to spend the day with us in Clovis.

Thank you to our wonderful volunteers: Pretzel, Hydra, Mark, Lisa, Stephanie, Alexis, Christina, Cole, Luke, Vanessa, Redvine, and Poindexter. This day would not have been possible without you!

Rain Did Not Stop the Fun in Southern California

The weather outside was threatening to get frightful (with a little bit of Los Angeles rain), but inside it was so delightful. Santa and a whole lot of volunteer elves got December started off right with the Southern California Holiday Party on December 4th. Families and friends gathered at the Shrine Auditorium where the dining room was filled with lunch goodies, craft tables, and good times. A trip down the hallway brought families to the Santa Zone for pictures and an epic array of toys to choose from. It was a great day spent with friends, old and new. Thank you for joining us!

We would also like to give a huge shoutout to our amazing partners at LA County Fire and ABC7—Spark of Love for providing toys for our families. We appreciate you!

Another Great Night in Clovis

On December 10th, AARBF staff and volunteers welcomed 250 members of the Clovis/Fresno community at the Clovis Rodeo Grounds for our 12th annual Dinner & Dance. We enjoyed an evening of camaraderie, dinner, auctions, and a whole lot of laughs. In one evening, we were able to raise almost $80,000 benefiting AARBF and Champ Camp! A huge thank you to everyone who came out to support our foundation.

We would also like to give a special shoutout to our wonderful event sponsors: Shannon Barnhart/ Fresno Oral Maxillofacial Surgery & Dental Implant Center, Fresno City Firefighters IAFF Local 202, Cook Land Company, Leon S. Peters Burn Center/Dr. Higginson and Dr. Dominic, The Brisky Family, The Hayashi Family, UCSF Fresno Burn Director, Congressman Kevin and Judy McCarthy, Cal Fire, and The Firing Line.

Thank you also to Clovis Kiwanis for hosting the bar, auctioneers John and Raynette, Tahoe Joe’s for the great food, Clovis North Baseball Team for helping with the setup, our servers from the Lemoore High School Football Team, and to all of those who donated items to our auction! We could not have done it without you!

The North Pole Meets the East Bay

On December 11th, we welcomed seventy burn survivors and their families in Berkeley for an afternoon of friends, family, food and fun! As guests arrived, they were greeted by volunteers and the Berkeley Fire Department, and entered into a decorated Santa’s Workshop where they were able to create some fun crafts. Attendees made ornaments and decorated photo frames to take home. To fill those frames, Santa came in on a fire truck and took photos with all of the children and families. After telling Santa what they wanted, they were able to go and pick a present.

During the festivities, Berkeley Firefighters were hard at work barbecuing, putting together a spread that was four tables wide! One of the event’s annual traditions returned: an ice cream party hosted by our volunteer, Shelby, which was the hit of the day. We enjoyed bowls overflowing with toppings and are so thankful for our dedicated volunteers, donors and supporters. We could not have done this without you!

Holiday Festivities Continue for Northern California

On Saturday, December 17th, we held the annual SCVMC and AARBF holiday party at the Four Seasons East Palo Alto. A huge shout out to the Four Seasons for the incredibly festive setting for our guests. Families were greeted by a sleigh and reindeer before walking into a winter wonderland filled with holiday decorations, arts and crafts, and lots of joy in the Santa Store!  Attendees were able to decorate cookies, paint ornaments, and create frames. For lunch, we were treated to a slider bar prepared by the wonderful staff at the Four Seasons, complete with every snack a kid could desire. Soon afterwards, we were greeted by the guest of honor: Santa Claus. After a visit and photo with Santa, kids were able to go shopping in the Santa Store filled with gifts collected by our friends at Bank of the West branches across the Peninsula and South Bay. There were presents aplenty, enough for each of the attendees (children and adults) to get one, as well as some extras for under the tree.

We are so thankful for all the help from our volunteers, especially our fearless leader, Linda Carrier. This party would not be possible without Linda’s hundreds of hours of work to make this event possible for 120 burn survivors and supporters. Thank you!

AARBF Staff Spend Time Together Before the Holiday Break

Staff members McKenzie Dern, Scott Wertz, Andrew Mersmann, Jeanne Terwilliger and Daniel Chacon had a luncheon via Zoom on December 23rd. It was a great way to wrap up another successful year. In addition to lunch, we shared holiday memories and had a wreath making contest. Who do you think won?

Calling All Champ Camp Counselors (Old and New)

Do you want to get involved in the nation’s largest summer camp for burn-injured children? Champ Camp has been running for over 35 years and serves over one hundred burn-injured children each year. We will spend June 8th-17th in Wonder Valley (in Sanger) dancing around, participating in summer camp activities including archery, dirt biking, go carting, Atlantis, swimming, etc. and – most importantly – building a community that supports and empowers burn survivors. If you are interested in becoming a counselor, or if you are a returning counselor, please fill out the application at:

If you have any questions, please reach out to McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at

Looking Forward to Time Well Spent in Cambria

Registration is now open for the 2023 Young Adult Summit and the Adult Retreat. These weekend-long retreats will be held at Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria, from February 17th – 20th.

The Young Adult Summit, for ages 16 to 20 years, was created to meet the unique challenges associated with growing up with burns. All teens must navigate high school, adopting a sense of independence and changing roles. The Young Adult Summit is for teens who deal with these issues in addition to their healing. Workshops and exercises engage teens in life skill lessons, team building, and networking. Each burn survivor gains tools, new knowledge, and an opportunity to continue the friendships created at Champ Camp.

The Adult Retreat provides a survivor-driven program allowing the opportunity for attendees to learn about their healing process and their journey as a burn survivor. This program is for adult burn survivors (ages 21+) and is an intensive weekend, developed by burn survivors for burn survivors. It will include workshops and support groups and will promote healing, self-discovery and socialization.

Space is limited for both retreats. Register today at:

Volunteer Opportunties:

Please check with your regional office for more information on upcoming volunteer opportunities.

For Northern California, please contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19

For Central California, please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 Ext. 15

For Southern California, please contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16

Upcoming Events:

February 2: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Caregiver Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

February 5: (1:30pm – 3:30pm), SoCal Survivors Online Support Group, contact Andrew “Monkey” Mersmann at 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 or to receive log-in information.

February 5-11: Burn Awareness Week

February 7: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Santa Clara Valley Medical Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

February 8: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), East Bay Burn Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

February 9: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Burn Care Professionals Online Support Group contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

February 9: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), Fresno Community Regional Medical Center Online Support Group, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 Ext. 15 to receive log-in information.

February 16: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Statewide Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

February 17-20: Young Adult Summit

February 17-20: The Adult Retreat

February 20: ALL AARBF Office Closed

February 21: (6:00pm – 7:30pm), Spanish-Speaking Online Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Andrew “Monkey” Mersmann at 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 or to receive log-in information.

February 23: (11:30am – 1:00pm), Saint Francis Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

If you missed any of our past Burn Bulletins, please check out our archives.