The Ver Hage Family

Told by Kristy and Rich Ver Hage

Shane was born in 2010 and before his first 2nd birthday, he was diagnosed with Autism. Shane is now 12 years old, and such a great kid!

Recently, Jill’s House Weekend Adventure Camp came to our area, and it has made us and Shane so happy.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, his world stopped, just like everyone else’s. Around the time things started opening back up, he fell sick with Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS). In 2021, he didn’t feel well, developed brain inflammation, and started having seizures; his behavior had changed completely. Almost overnight, he went from being an active kid to not being able to walk for even five minutes without pain. It was such a shock to witness how aggressive PANS was, and how quickly it had taken control over his body.

We worked with our doctors for a long time to diagnose his condition and identify the right treatment for him. He feels much better now, and we are working really hard to help him regain his strength and energy. Due to PANS, he developed anxiety, so the Weekend Adventure Camp was very important for him! We were nervous about taking him to camp, but when we saw that volunteers who were part of our church were also going to be there with him, it put us at ease.

As much as we needed the weekend, he needed camp even more. We were so happy to learn that he climbed the rock wall! The encouragement and cheers he received motivated him, and he made it all the way to the top. He was so proud of himself for that accomplishment.

Shane attends a wonderful school, and he participates in a special needs Sunday School class at church. His world is pretty small. We know that he wants independence, but it’s hard. When he was at camp, he was independent and could do what a typically abled 12-year-old kid gets to do.

When it was time to pick Shane up on Sunday afternoon, we were so emotional and happy to see him. He was happy to see us, too. During camp, he received love, attention, and care. It was a truly special time.

Having a child with special needs is often a journey where you feel alone. We are very grateful to the many people who spent their weekend with Shane so that we could feel human again. It was amazing and a real blessing.

Shane kept saying, “I want camp,” for many days after the weekend. He has also taken on a new love of rock climbing, which we get to enjoy at a local indoor rock-climbing gym. We are so grateful for Jill’s House and look forward to many years of more weekend camp experiences. Thank you, Jill’s House, for coming to New Jersey!

Thank you for making stories like Shane’s possible.