March 2022 Burn Bulletin

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March 2022 Burn Bulletin

AARBF Presents to the Accessibility and Disability Commission

Earlier this year, AARBF’s Assistant Director, Daniel Chacon, Senior Regional Manager, Margarita Rodriguez and Pasadena resident, burn survivor and AARBF volunteer, ER Ruiz, gave a presentation to the Accessibility and Disability Commission for the City of Pasadena.

The presentation included a brief introduction of the history of AARBF as well as ER’s burn survivor story and relationship with the foundation.  We identified resources for burn survivors in the disability community and how AARBF works to be more accessible and inclusive to those individuals. AARBF is always looking for ways to expand prevention efforts to those with disabilities, an example of which is our partnership with Pyramid Educational Consultants in the development of the N.I.C.K. (Neurotypical/diverse Independent Communication Kit) for Fire and Burn Safety program. N.I.C.K is designed to bring fire and burn safety education to individuals with autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and communication challenges.

Making Connections Through the ABA National Leadership Conference

January 31 – February 4, 2022, Jennifer Radics-Johnson virtually attended the American Burn Association’s (ABA) Leadership Conference. This conference, held the week before National Burn Awareness Week, was focused on connecting members with their state’s Senators and Representatives to ask them to support legislation and funding for burn research, prevention, and efforts that impact the burn care and patient outcomes.

During the week, Jennifer attended a training session and was able to meet virtually with Senator Feinstein’s and Senator Padilla’s offices to talk about burn care research. Thank you, Jennifer for your leadership and commitment to keeping the needs of the burn community visible to our national and state representatives!

AARBF Participates in National Burn Awareness Week

During the week of February 6-12, 2022, AARBF shared prevention tips and burn survivor stories for National Burn Awareness Week (NBAW). NBAW was created by our friends at the American Burn Association and is an annual initiative to bring together burn, fire and life safety educators to educate the public about the devastation and causes of burn injuries and the steps you can take to prevent them. For 2022, the week’s theme was “Burning Issues in the Kitchen.” AARBF shared this message through daily prevention tips on our Facebook and Instagram accounts.

In addition to safety tips, we also shared the passion project of recent AARBF Intern, Arely Grageola. Arely gathered stories of burn survivors; stories told in their own words. These stories can be found on our website in the Multimedia Resource Library under “Get Connected.”

Also on social media was an IG Live interview on February 7, 2022, with Jaqueline Laruita and the founders of PECs Andy Bondy and Lori Frost where they talked about the N.I.C.K. Program! N.I.C.K. was introduced during NBAW last year and has already been translated into Chinese and Japanese.

We were excited to see the return of in-person activities and enjoyed time with our community partners, Community Regional Medical Center and Leon S Peters Burn Center by having a booth at their community event. We had almost 80 people learn how to Stop, Drop and Roll. We also received a visit from Fresno Fire Department Station 3!

For more prevention tips, visit our website at

AARBF Attends the American Camp Association National Conference

AARBF’s Daniel Chacon spent February 8-11, 2022, at the American Camp Association (ACA) National Conference in Portland, OR. This is an annual conference that provides education and guidance to organizations hosting camps (not limited to burn camps) across the country.

While at the ACA, Daniel was able to see our friend and past camp consultant, Professor Dave, as well as Madeline Carson from the Midwest Children’s Burn Camp.

Daniel attended the following sessions at the conference: Opening Session with Candance Doby, How to Grow Staff, Research Forum on Diversity and Inclusion, Immunization Requirements, COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate-Pro vs Con, Utilizing Data for Program Evaluation, and Increasing Dollars, The Complexity of the Communicable Disease Plan, and Introverts are Campers Too. In addition, Daniel attended coffee meetings, chatted with exhibitors in the conference center and learned more about resources for camps.

AARBF Shares Burn Awareness Education Efforts

On February 15, AARBF’s Daniel Chacon attended the SoCal FPO Public Education Committee meeting where he had the honor of updating the committee on National Burn Awareness Week (NBAW). There were seven fire departments represented who learned about the origin of NBAW and this year’s campaign. In addition, Daniel shared about past campaigns, scald burns, American Burn Association statics on burn injuries and resources available for burn prevention education and survivor services.

Young Adult Burn Survivors Get Prepared for the Workforce

On February 18-21, we welcomed 21 young adult burn survivors to the Young Adult Summit (YAS). The attendees were excited for the opportunity to reconnect with their community in an in-person environment. We had several share how much this community and time to reconnect meant to them!

The very talented Young Adult Summit Advisors (counselors) put together a program designed to prepare our young adults for the job force. Led by Monkey assisted by Chief, Dash, and Buc, the weekend started with creating a resume for each and every one of survivors. They were then provided with a personality test, courtesy of Dr. Ruth, to help them determine where they may thrive. From there, Kamikaze, Patch, Rocks, Dr. Ruth and Pookie treated the survivors to a job fair to show them some of the paths our advisors had taken.

The weekend would not have been complete without the annual formal dinner that Chef Buggy put together. This is a centerpiece of the YAS program and a highlight of everyone’s time!

This was a memorable weekend for our young adults and we appreciate the countless hours the advisors spent preparing for this program.

Burn Survivors Supporting Burn Survivors at the Adult Retreat

In addition to the Young Adult Summit, we also hosted 24 adult burn survivors at Camp Ocean Pines over the Presidents Day weekend, February 18-21, 2022 for our annual Retreat for Adult Burn Survivors.

The facilitators and staff worked countless hours designing survivor specific workshops to promote healing, wellness, and growth. Attendees were welcomed by Wendy as she aligned everyone’s vibrations, mindset, and goals for the weekend by having survivors smash paint balls symbolizing the struggles they would be letting go of for the weekend. Then the group participated in a number of workshops led by Tiffane, Kevin, Penny, and James; surrounding topics such as Body Image, Meditation, Yoga, Writing and Support Groups. We also had a team building exercise on the beach using a ropes course built by our volunteer, Knuckles.

Our adult survivors were able to grow together as a community, heal and strengthen each other, and embrace the journey they are on. The Retreat for adult burn survivors is designed by survivors for survivors.

Art Expression Meets the Ancient Art of Kintsugi

On February 24, 2022, AARBF’s McKenzie Dern led the Art Expression session teaching about Kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold. This form of pottery embraces flaws and imperfections, resulting in stronger, more beautiful pieces of art.

McKenzie stated, “I like to think of this form of art in terms of my life. Sometimes in the process of repairing things that have broken, we create something more unique, beautiful and resilient.”

We had 10 people in attendance. Everyone had a great time learning about this ancient art form and how the lessons of breakage and repair could relate back to their own life and experiences. The participants received a kit containing a ceramic bowl that they first had to break and then use the rest of the supplies to repair it! The recording will be available online soon in our Multimedia Resource Library for those who missed it. Thank you, McKenzie, for providing a challenging, fun and thoughtful session!

Please plan to join us for our next Expression session featuring Writing on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at 7:00pm. Our guest host, Andrew “Monkey” Mersmann will be focusing this session on “Writing to Inspire Others.” He’ll discuss how you can create uplifting content through many forms of writing including blogging, books, letters, notes and even your social media posts!

All burn survivors, family members and supporters are welcome to attend this session. Reservations are due by March 22, 2022. Click here to register today!

Family Fun Day Comes to Wonder Valley

Wonder Valley, the home of Champ Camp, has a family fun day planned and you are invited! Bring your family and friends on Sunday, March 20, 2022 from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM. There will be many activities including canoeing on the last, horseshoe pits, sports activities, billiards, go-carts, zip line, rock climbing wall and more! There is a suggested donation of $5 person and a portion of the proceeds benefit AARBF and Champ Camp! We hope to see you there!

Save the Date for Champy-On

In 2021, the teams and generous supporters working together through our three fundraisers, Champy-on, Bows for Dough and Grow Your Stache helped to send 75 kids to Champ Camp!

This year, to unite together, we have rolled up all three fundraising campaigns into one GIANT Champy-On fundraiser! Champy-On will begin April 15, 2022 and run through June 10, 2022. Our goal is to send 50 kids to Champ Camp this year!

Watch our social media for more information or contact Katie Szymczak at 818-848-0223 Ext. 14 or

Calling All Champ Camp Counselors – Past and Present

AARBF will be launching our “Friends of Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation” group this year and we will be kicking off this group with a Champ Camp Counselor Reunion!

Save the Date!
Plan to join us in Morgan Hill, California on July 23, 2022. We will be meeting at Mike “Colonel” Sanders’ house and have a full day of fun planned.

For more information about the “Friends of Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation” group and the upcoming reunion contact Katie “Popcorn” Szymczak at or 818-848-0223 ext. 17 for more details. Need to update your contact information? Email us at Don’t miss out on the fun!

Lions, Tigers and Bears – Oh My!

Registration is still open for a fun-filled day at the Los Angeles Zoo on Saturday, April 2, 2022. Our young burn survivors are invited to hang out with their friends from camp, see and learn about lots of animals and enjoy lunch on us! The Los Angeles Zoo trip is open to Southern California burn survivors ages 5-17.

Visit our website at Space is limited! Registration is due on March 18, 2022.

The Fresno Urban Run Returns May 1, 2022

We are excited for the return of the Fresno Urban Run scheduled for Sunday, May 1, 2022! There will be three teams participating in this year’s race, raising funds for Champ Camp. The teams are Hanford Fire Department Firefighters (Scott Mellon), Fresno City College (FCC) Fire Academy students, and College of the Sequoias (COS) Fire Academy students.

What is the Fresno Urban Run?
Starting inside of Chukchansi Park, they will be put to the challenge of climbing every step from the bottom to the top of the stadium, followed by a run up a 6-story circular garage and then down an adjacent 6-story circular garage, proceeded by a 1 mile run down Fulton Street to the Tuolumne Overpass (Urban Hill), before the final challenge, climbing 220 stairs to the top of a 10-story building, The Grand Tower, where the timing sensor will stop the clock! Overall length of the Urban Run is approximately 3 Miles.  Participants are released to begin one at a time with 3 to 5 seconds between each runner.  First runner will be released at 8:00am.

You can help support these teams and Champ Camp by donating to one (or all) of the teams! It’s easy, simply visit, scroll down to the leaderboard, and click on the donate tab for the team of your choice. Contact Katie Szymczak at 818-848-0223 Ext. 14 or for more information.

Fun Awaits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

We are excited to be returning this year to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on April 9, 2022. Although we are unable to have a sleep-over this year, we will still have a super day planned! This trip is limited to burn survivors in the Central and Northern regions, ages 5-17 years.

Visit our website at to register. Applications are due by Friday, March 25, 2022. Space will fill quickly for this event.

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:

March 20: (11:00am – 4:00pm), Wonder Valley Family Fun Day, contact Katie “Popcorn” Szymczak at 818-848-0223 Ext. 14 or for more information.

March 24: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Writing Expression, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 Ext. 18 or


April 3: (1:30pm – 3:30pm), SoCal Survivors Online Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 to receive log-in information.

April 5: (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.

April 7: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Caregiver Support Group – Online Video Support, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 Ext. 18 or to receive log-in information.

April 7-8: Central Valley Burn Relay, contact Katie “Popcorn” Szymczak at 818-848-0223 Ext. 14 or for more information.

April 12: (6:00pm – 7:30pm), Fresno Community Regional Medical Center Online Support Group, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 Ext. 15 to receive log-in information.

April 13: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), North/East Bay Burn Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19 to receive log-in information.

April 14: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Burn Care Professionals Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 Ext. 18 or to receive log-in information.

April 15: AARBF’s 51st Anniversary

April 15 – June 10: Champy-On Fundraiser, contact Katie “Popcorn” Szymczak at 818-848-0223 Ext. 14 or for more information

April 17-23: Volunteer Appreciation Week

April 19: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Spanish-Speaking Online Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 to receive log-in information.

April 21: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Statewide Support Group – Online, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 Ext. 18 or to receive log-in information.

April 28: (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.

April 28: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Music Expression, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 Ext. 18 or

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