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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Clay Aiken Fans Using Their Voice in SC  

I found this wonderful article posted at The Clay Aiken News today.
It is terrific. I hope more Fans will be following this groups lead.

They are definitely "Using Their Voice".
I was very impressed with what developed over a two year period.

Read this article and you too will be impressed.

"Camp of Inclusion"
Established in South Carolina

Local Aiken fans turn passion into good works

By Alice Lang

Members of an Upstate fan club for American Idol finalist Clay Aiken have taken their passion for music and turned it into a mission for helping children who have disabilities.

This group of volunteers from Spartanburg, Greenville and Anderson counties was instrumental in founding the local YMCA Camp of Inclusion, also known as Camp IMPACT, which gives children with disabilities the opportunity to go to summer camp with typical children.

"We had followed Clay Aiken through American Idol. Then we learned about the Bubel/Aiken Foundation. We discovered the Camps of Inclusion through getting to know the foundation. It was Clay's dream to see inclusion spread across the U.S. and we've tapped into his dream," said volunteer Rita Smith.

In February 2006, Smith, an orthodontic assistant, and Sandra Graham, a local realtor, approached Rick Callebs, the CEO of the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg, and asked him about starting a Camp of Inclusion.

"He received it immediately with open arms and said, 'We can do it this summer!' We were stunned," said Smith.

The first year they had 9 children, the second year 16, and this year they have 18 children with disabilities who have participated.

"This year the Bubel/Aiken Foundation provided scholarships for camp fees and they helped us to hire more staff and to organize curriculum. They came and gave us an all day training session for staff," said Smith.

Sandra Graham, known to the children as "Graham cracker," has been thrilled by the success and growth of the camp.

"As an empty-nester, it allows me to be involved with children. They're really special. The typical children are very receptive. We see children with disabilities doing things they didn't know they could do. They bloom at the camp," said Graham.

"We're finding that children with disabilities who might have been withdrawn, over the time they're here, they start opening up," added Smith.

YMCA staff members appreciate the support of these volunteers.

"We have a great base of volunteers who take time off from work to help us out. The Bubel/Aiken Foundation gave us $10,000 this year. It helps us with supplies and provides the program free for children with disabilities," said Cindy Grassi, Association Child Care Director.

Parents see the benefits for their children.

"My two year old son C.J., who has a mild case of autism, doesn't have a lot of chances to interact with kids his own age. New experiences seem to bring out more language for him. I think what they're doing is really great," said Cindy Peck of Moore.

"This is also a way for parents with children with disabilities to have a break and give them some family time," said Grassi.

On the last Thursday of the camp, Jerry Aiken, CEO of the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, and his wife Diane, came to visit the Middle Tyger YMCA. Jerry Aiken is the uncle of Clay Aiken.

"The ultimate goal of these camps and the foundation is to prepare children with disabilities so they can be included in all aspects of life to the greatest degree possible," said Aiken.

Aiken was impressed by the facilities and the activities of the camp. He also was grateful for the support of the volunteers.

"You volunteers are the backbone of the Bubel/Aiken Foundation. Without you, our foundation would not exist," he emphasized.

On October 18th, the Foundation will hold a "Champions of Change Gala" fundraiser in Raleigh, NC to support the 28 Camps of Inclusion across the U.S.

"We will recognize individuals, groups and companies that are making a difference in inclusion," said Aiken.

For more information go to
The Bubel Aiken Foundation.

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22 comments: to “ Clay Aiken Fans Using Their Voice in SC

  • kim


    Wonderful blogsite - really informative and you picked one of the best tracks of the CD to "entertain me" whilst reading!

    Thanks kim


    Thank you!

  • Anonymous


    Glad to asee this article posted.

    Brava to those ladies who are making a difference.


    Clay Aiken-------------- I love his heart! Love this blog love this song! Thank you!

  • Anonymous


    A wonderful Blog about a wonderful cause. I have a step-daughter with disabilities and would love to find a camp for her to attend like this. Being in the mainstream is very important for people with disabilities. I applaud Clay Aiken and the YMCA for stepping up to the plate and bringing special people with special problems into the public eye. They have been hidden for much too long.

  • Anonymous


    I commend the fans who made Camp IMPACT possible, and to Rick Callebs who believes in the Bubel Aiken Foundation's mission of inclusion and its value to all the children in his community. Well done! It makes me want to attend the Foundation's Gala on October 18in Raleigh.

  • Anonymous


    Very nice job. My hat is off to the SC fans.

  • Anonymous


    Clay has a big heart and shows how he cares through his actions. It's wonderful to read how his foundation is making a difference in the lives of children and fans who are helping make that happen.

  • Sharon


    Love to hear about the success of the camps. My son was disabled and the summers were so hard. Bravo for BAF and Clay Aiken.

  • Pat


    Bravo to Clay, TBAF, and all those volunteers who are making a difference in children's lives one camp, one child, at a time.

    Sounds like it's going to be a great summer for a LOT of children across the country from what I've been reading.

    Way to go TBAF and "Let's All Play!"


    Thank you for spreading the word about how much Clay Aiken, and his fans, make a difference in the lives of children.

    Between The Bubel Aiken Foundation and UNICEF, Clay is a man who constantly walks the walk.

  • Anonymous


    Good article! Clay inspires!

  • M. Cade


    This is really heartwarming. Inclusion is so important and I salute Mr. Aiken and his fans as well as the 'Y' and others who work hard to bring these programs to life. As the aunt of a child with special needs I can only say that each opportunity for all to play together is a blessing.

    I like the music playing, too!

  • Anonymous


    How great this is. I can just imagine how much joy there must be for the participants,the children, thier parents and the staff.
    YAY for Clay Aiken and BAF and for the these big hearted people.Way to be the change. :)

  • ivy


    My sister was a special needs child. She would have loved being part of a program like this. Sadly, she passed away several years ago. I miss her still.


    I love reading about the good works that are accomplished by individuals that are inspired by Clay Aiken. His foundation supports many great camps throughout the US. I love that many lives are touched by this man.

  • gaymarie


    Thank you! This is a wonderful blog... Clay Aiken is an amazing man!


    Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments. I am just one of the messengers.
    I was just so impressed with the article and knew that many others would be also.

    He really does walk the walk.

  • Anonymous


    Wow, I absolutely love this blog! I'm going to add it to my favorites so I can be sure to check in to see what you find to share with us!!!


    Wow, that's amazing, thanks for sharing that here.

    I love how the fans' love for Clay inspires them to do things for others. We could never have five years ago even thought how much this man would change our - and childrens' lives for the better.


    This is wonderful. Clay has been such a blessing for children. It is so heartwarming to see his fans take up his causes and make a difference in these children's lives.
    Amazing blog - thanks

  • Schatzi50


    It just warms my heart to see Clay's good works spreading thoughout our country for these children. Great article and love, love, love the music.