Their eyes make contact from across the pavilion. Slowly, the young girl in the wheelchair maneuvers her way towards him. When they meet, he bends down and tenderly puts his arms around her and embraces her for what seems like an eternity. After they separate, the smile on the young girl’s face is as bright as the sun.
This man who loves to hug special needs children is not a famous athlete or celebrity. He is simply known as “Louie” to all the parents and children who visit his summer family camp located in central Oregon.
During the year, “Louie” makes his living as a humble Oregon dairy farmer. Over the summer, however, he is viewed as a hero by many parents and their children with disabilities.
Louie Kazemier is the director of an amazing family camp called Camp Attitude. Camp Attitude is a non-profit family camp devoted to serving families with special needs children at no charge. Currently, Camp Attitude runs eight summer camps per year which provide approximately 35 families with a weeklong camping experience like no other. Children campers are paired with teenage volunteers or Buddies while parents receive much needed respite from the day to day challenges of raising a special needs child.
Louie believes that every child camper is perfect just the way they are. He further believes they are made just the way God designed them. When Louie looks at a child, his or her disability becomes invisible. He focuses beyond the physical and instead sees every child’s individual heart. In short, Louie gets it and has the camp to prove it. It is clear that while being a dairy farmer is his occupation, running Camp Attitude is his passion. Without a doubt, Louie Kazemier is truly an unsung hero.
Recently, while being interviewed by local news station, Louie reflected on Camp Attitude’s future: “I don’t look at what we have done; I’m looking forward five years to what we can do because I think we have just started. I don’t think Camp Attitude is it. We’re going to run out of summer before we run out of families”.