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By Sharron Letson
Member of the Thunder on the Mountain Car Show Committee 

Thunder on the Mountain raises money for Optimal Hospice Foundation


A fun day at the Thunder on the Mountain Car Show raises funds for young people to have a fun day at the Optimal Hospice Foundation's Kids Camp.

We all know what it is like to lose a loved one. It is painful. It is part of life. But imagine you are a 10-year-old kid and when you come home from school one day someone tells you that your brother has died. There is pain but there is also confusion, anger, disbelief, worry and frustration because you don’t know how to express what you are feeling. To make matters worse, your family members may try to protect you by not talking about the death when you are around. Not talking about it does not diminish the pain. The pain is still there. It is real. For most people, it helps to talk about it. For adults, there are grief groups, safe places to meet with others and share feelings about loss. Optimal Hospice Foundation offers a grief group right here in Tehachapi at the Senior Center every Tuesday.

For children, however, a different kind of setting works better; one where they can act like kids and share their feelings with others going through the same thing. That is what the Optimal Hospice Foundation Kids’ Camp is all about. It is an overnight camp (two and a half days) that lets young people know that it is OK to have fun and act like kids but also teaches them to express sadness and cope with their grief. Through the games and activities, kids form fellowships with each other and then they don’t feel so alone. Bereavement counselors are close by to offer guidance and one-on-one attention.

A girl who attended the Kids Camp in 2014 said, “I thought I was the only one feeling this emptiness. At camp, I connected with wonderful people and learned that I wasn’t alone”.

One mother said, “Thank you for giving me my daughter back”.

For children ages six through nine, too young to attend the overnight camp, there is a new one-day camp with spray-park games and lunch. They start the day by sharing, and then leave their worries with the “Worry Tree”. Young children often worry that it is their fault, that they did something to cause this terrible event. They worry that the same thing will happen to someone else that they love.

After two young boys attended the one-day camp, they were asked what they remembered most about the experience. They remembered all the kids writing the names of loved ones on balloons, thinking of a message they wanted to send, and then releasing the balloons up to heaven.

Kids Camp is open to any child in the community who has suffered the loss of a loved one even if the family never used hospice services. There is no charge to the families or the kids which is why contributions from groups like Thunder on the Mountain are so important.

The Thunder on the Mountain Car Show Committee raises money from car show registration fees, the sale of raffle tickets and tee shirts, and trophy sponsorships. When you buy a raffle ticket or tee-shirt from a Thunder on the Mountain volunteer you are helping charities like the Optimal Hospice Foundation. Last year, in addition to Optimal Hospice Foundation, Thunder on the Mountain donated to the Thunder on the Mountain Scholarship Fund, Tehachapi SENIOR CENTER, Shop with a Cop, Honor Flight, Kelly’s Therapeutic Riders, STOP (Save Tehachapi’s Orphaned Pets), our local VFW, Tehachapi Community Theater, and Have a Heart Humane Society.

The drawing for the large raffle prizes will be held downtown during the car show on August 20. Prizes this year are a decorative outdoor fountain, a $1000 cash prize, a $500 Albertson’s gift certificate, a $100 Albertson’s gift certificate, gym memberships, custom painted Speedway Pedal Cars, and a 700R4 4 Speed Automatic Transmission for a small block Chevy. You need not be present to win.


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