Some children receive a set of "wheels" early in life. Long before the time of learners permits, these kids tool around not in Dad's old Chevy but in a wheelchair they may never escape.
You have to be there to see it, but something magical happens when wheelchair-bound kids spend a week at Camp Kostopulos. With an able-bodied friend for support, the children can ride a gentle horse through winding canyon trails. A whole new world is opened up to the handicapped children who enjoy this summer camp.Each July a massive mobilization of corporate support focuses on the annual Canyon Carnival benefiting Camp Kostopulos. Hundreds of volunteers prepare the food, games and prizes that will make the day one to remember.
This year's carnival will cause hearts to skip a beat when a magnificent registered gelding named The Agitator is won by a lucky ticket holder. Leroy Johnson, owner of LLW Enterprises, 501 W. 12300 South in Draper, is donating the 4-year-old appaloosa to help the camp.
"Last year we built a barn and corrals at Camp Kostopulos," said Johnson. "I've been involved with the camp for about 12 years. When I saw how these kids come out of their shells when they are around horses, my heart just went out to them. I thought donating this horse would be a good way to raise some money for the camp."
Appaloosas nearly became extinct when the U.S. Cavalry found itself outmaneuvered by the Nez Perce Indians who bred them. Johnson said the only way the cavalry could beat the Indians was to sneak in and slaughter their horses.
Johnson said Agitator was originally bred to race but was born a little late for the season. The gelding has the potential to become a good "youth" horse with the proper training and is currently worth about $2,500.
"He has top national bloodlines through Miss Little Town and his sire, Mr. Corralator," Johnson explained. "He is double-bred from Nazarula, a Kentucky Derby winner," he said.
For camp supporters who find schussing ski slopes more enticing than riding horses, the second grand prize may be worth a ticket donation. One week's lodging and skiing at Snowbird's Iron Blosam Condominium will be available at a drawing.
Admission to the carnival includes dinner served by the Santa Fe Restaurant and Ruth's Diner and games sponsored by the Salt Lake Area Corporate Volunteer Council. KOOL Radio's Danny Kramer will be broadcasting live from the carnival, and a full day's activities for children include such things as face painting, food booths and cookie decorating.
For more information about the carnival, call Camp Kostopulos at 582-0700.