Their smiles couldn’t be melted

By D. Anthony Botkin -

Hot summer temperatures couldn’t melt the smiles of the superheroes buzzing around Wednesday at Recreation Unlimited’s Safety Day. Many of the campers were into the spirit of the day’s Superhero theme dressed as their favorite superhero.

The annual event brings together first responders and equipment for the special needs campers to see and touch first hand.

“It gives them a chance to try on the fire hats, see the equipment, look at coloring books and see all kinds of great stuff,” Huttlin said. “They look forward to it, the emergency teams look forward to it and it’s a really nice time.”

Huttlin said the camp usually tries to schedule Safety Day during youth week at the camp.

“We have two residential camps in session,” Huttlin said. “We have about 110 campers here on site and we bring them over in waves.”

Huttlin said by bringing the campers over in waves gives them a little more individual time with the different first responders. He said the heat makes everything a little harder but his advice for hot days makes the event enjoyable and possible.

“It’s about going slow,” he said. “Go slow, go slow, go slow.”

Huttlin said the current campus, near Ashley, has been in existence since 1989.

“We just put $3.5 million into renovation of all the buildings,” he said. “We’re going to be breaking ground in September for a new residence hall.”

Huttlin said the facility is one of the few that serves youth and adults.

“A lot of camps stop at 18 or 19-years-old. We probably have as many adults here as youth,” he said. “We serve any disabilities that you would come across.”

Bob Lavender, Operations Manager for the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency, said he has been organizing the event for the past 15 years. He said he’s the person that gets the first responders and equipment together for the event every year.

“We’ve always gotten helicopters in years past,” he said. “This year I kept pulling but evidently they weren’t grabbing. There’s always next year.”

Sandy Mackey, Administration Manager for the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency, said by pulling all the first responders together it lets special needs people see and talk with the people that might come to their house during an emergency. She said it helps them understand and not be afraid.

“It’s a great thing,” she said. “All the equipment is a great hands-on for them.”

Recreation Unlimited currently serves approximately 3,700 individuals with disabilities and health concerns from 57 counties in Ohio. The facility is the largest provider in the state serving special needs individuals in sports, recreation and education. Anthony Botkin | The Gazette Anthony Botkin | The Gazette

By D. Anthony Botkin

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.