Keira McKenzie can wear her gi and practise jiu jitsu again now that she has mostly recovered from being burned more than a year ago. She’s now raising money for fellow young burn victims so they can attend the same summer Burn Camp that she did in 2018. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Young Chilliwack burn survivor raising funds to help send kids to camp

Keira McKenzie wants others to experience the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Camp

Eleven-year-old Keira McKenzie was on the way to the doctor with her mother when they stopped at a drive-thru to pick up coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

With five cups and a four-cup cardboard holder, it was a bit of a balancing act for the Grade 5 Tyson elementary student and it did not end well.

A cup of scalding hot tea fell on her lap causing her to drop all the rest of the cups too.

“It felt like I was bitten by a shark,” Keira explained, talking about the incident back in November 2017.

“It felt like I landed in a fireplace.”

Keira suffered second- and third-degree burns on her legs, spent time in hospital and nearly died 13 days after the incident due to sepsis.

“They gave her every medication under the sun,” mom Terresa said.

Fourteen months later, she is still healing, she has a surgery scheduled for April, and she will have permanent scars.

As part of the healing process, Keira had an experience last summer that changed her young life. She attended the Young Burn Survivors Camp, which last year was held in Squamish, and this year will be held in July at the Cheakamus Centre in Paradise Valley.

Keira had such a great time that she wants to go back every year, but she also wants every young burn survivor who wants to go to get a chance.

“We did the funnest things,” she said. “I want more kids to be able to come because every year not every kid who wants to go, gets to go.”

Burn camp is a creation of the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, which in addition to running the camp, helps pay for prevention, education, and funding for medical care, hospitals and research in B.C.

• READ MORE: VIDEO: B.C. woman praises burn fund after boat explosion in 1978

• READ MORE: Buy a lotto ticket and be a hero to B.C. burn victims

More than 1,500 children from ages six to 18 have attended Burn Camp since 1994, and it’s run by volunteers that include firefighters, doctors, youth peer survivors nurses and more.

But it’s not cheap. The cost for each camper to attend is $2,900 so Keira wants to raise funds so not only she can go again, but maybe others too.

She started by donating half of her birthday money, matched by mom, which was $170. Then she started a GoFundMe where she has raised $825 as of Wednesday.

“Did you know that all the firefighters, paramedics, nurses, doctors, social workers and all the other people involved to help out send kids to camp volunteer their time?” she asks on her GoFundMe page, entitled “Keira’s fundraiser for burn survivors”.

“I would really like to raise $1,000 to donate to the kids!”

“Being burned means you miss out on everything for the first six months at least, I missed out on fun activities like running, sports, gym, I had to stop horseback riding, I couldn’t go to my friends birthday parties, swimming, skating, my school play, I missed 40 days of school, (and still do because of hospital trips).”

Keira also loves jiu-jitsu where, before her burn, she trained with Sensei Steve Hiscoe at Hiscoe Jiu-Jitsu. Another activity she couldn’t do for a long time after her burn, but now she’s back at the dojo, back living life and having fun.

Keira is hoping she can raise enough money to help out other young burn victims to attend burn camp.

“Burn camp is a blast, so I want other kids who have had the unfortunate circumstance of having been burned to be able to experience camp.”


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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