Spirit of Giving: Special needs man helps kids with disabilities through YMCA's Camp Pinewood

July 11, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Pitts suffered a massive brain injury and now has impaired speech, weakened arms and legs and has difficulty walking.

But that's not where his story ends. He is now working to help other children with disabilities live their best life. It's how he shows his "Spirit of Giving."

For the past 19 years, Anthony Pitts has found a home away from home at the YMCA's Camp Pinewood.

"Anthony was so challenged at Camp Pinewood to keep up with kids without disabilities. It gave him a great deal of self-esteem," said Gwendolyn Bohannon.

"I like going there because I can be myself. I feel free and open," said Pitts.

Pitts has been spending summers at the camp, located in Michigan, for the past 19 years. He's moved from camper to a staff position.

Recently, he donated more than $500,000 to add ramps around the campus to provide greater accessibility. He added an accessible shower and new beds. The lodge also got a major renovation.

"What Anthony's gift has helped us with is people of all disabilities can come here if they want to and if they feel like this is a great place for them to be then we want them to come and try it," said Erik Bengston, executive director.

For Pitts, the camp has offered a chance to escape his disabilities and just be a kid. He hopes his legacy will be that more children will know that freedom.

"Kids like me can have an opportunity to get away for a couple days and experience the stuff that I experienced," said Pitts.

In 1991, a jury verdict awarded Pitts $24-million from the city. At that time, it was one of the largest verdicts on record.


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