NEW PORT RICHEY — Barry and Paula Cohen struggled to find a summer camp for their son Gregory, who has autism. So they decided to start one themselves, and that was 25 years ago.
“I love being at the camp because it’s a lot of fun,” said a long-time camper.
The Pasco Association for Challenged Kids, known as P.A.C.K., depends on donations and a state grant every year to keep going.
The Cohens credit then state representative Mike Fasano with helping them get started.
“When they called to tell us we had the money, they said, 'yours was the only grant that was unanimously approved,'” said Paula.
The kids who attend P.A.C.k. have autism, cerebral palsy or Down’s syndrome.
P.A.C.K. said they are still the only summer program in Pasco County that takes every child no matter the disability.
They are housed for the first time at the Pepin Academies campus in New Port Richey.
“When these kids come up and they say they love coming to camp. And for the parents, they can go shopping in peace. They can have a cup of coffee in peace. And when they pick the kids up at the end of the day they are very happy. I’ve asked them after the first day, do you want to come back tomorrow? 'Yes. We want to come back,'" said Paula.
“I know for me when I come down here and see these kids having fun, running around the gym or splashing in the wading pool and whatnot it’s very rewarding,” said Barry.
All kids deserve the chance to have some fun over the summer, and P.A.C.K. gives them that opportunity.
For more information, go to pascopack.org.