HOUSTON—Since elementary school, Matthew Stephenson has raised money every year to send kids with cerebral palsy to the Easter Seals’ Camp Smiles.
“Everyone there just doesn’t want to leave on the last day. It’s just that fun,” he said.
Stephenson knows because he’s been a camper. Recently he appealed to his classmates to help him raise a personal record of $30,000 to send 30 kids to Camp Smiles this summer.
“He also realizes how lucky he is because his parents aren’t worried about finding money to go to camp,” said Kelly Klein, Easter Seals Chief Fundraiser. “They’re not worried about money for therapy and Matthew understood that when he was nine and he was like, ‘Who else raises money for these kids when they can’t afford it?’”
In addition to classmates, Stephenson solicits donations from those closest to him.
“I ask my friends and family to help and they usually generously help,” he said.
He has a mild form of Cerebral Palsy, a birth defect of the brain that causes complete or partial paralysis.
But nothing robs him of his fun loving outlook.
“At school he’s always talking,” said classmate Harrison Sladic. “Sometimes he gets on the teachers’ nerves ‘cuz he’s always talking, but he’s always nice saying things. He’s always complimenting people and he always just wants to have fun.”
Stephenson is in the band, plays video games and hangs with friends. One day, he said, he would like to work in the field of technology. Whatever he does Stephenson will no doubt be in a class by himself.