Pay It 4ward: Camp Sunrise inspires hope in adults with brain injury

Pay It 4ward

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Three years ago, Sheila Campbell was recovering from a surgery when she had an ischemic stroke.

At 55 years old, she lost her ability to speak, to write and to read.

“I had to retrain my thoughts because all my words would go together,” remembers Campbell. “I couldn’t comprehend anything.”

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Sheila Campbell

With the help of God and OU Health Speech Language Pathologist Tracy Grammer, Shelia learned how to read, write and speak again.

Grammer is a fellowship trained speech language pathologist.

“She’s one of those clinicians who patients are lucky to have because she will definitely put their needs first,” said Joel Greene, rehabilitation manager at OU Health.

Tracy Grammer started organizing an adult summer camp 23 years ago.

She calls it Camp Sunrise.

The annual three-day retreat is a respite for families of patients recovering from traumatic brain injury.

For Grammer, it is a labor of love.

“I just want people to know she does so much,” Campbell said. “She stays here until 9 or 10 o’clock at night working. She does so much for people.”

Grammer’s quiet devotion is a lifeline for families of those who have suffered debilitating stroke injury.

First Fidelity Bank’s Aubrey Williams knows the struggle because her mother recently suffered a stroke.

“Shelia, I am so happy to be here,” Williams said. “This cause is close to me. My mom is a stroke patient too. She’s recovering. She’s doing really well, and I’m honored to pay it forward to someone who works with stroke patients like you and like my mother.”

Grammer’s team at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center has been planning this Pay it 4ward surprise.

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Tracy Grammer

Sheila Campbell nominated Tracy Grammer for a Pay It 4ward award.

“You deserve this. You brought me out when I couldn’t talk, and you made me have confidence in myself again,” Campbell said to Grammer. “You encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and touch other people with the story I didn’t know I had in me.”

Helping patients find their voice is more than a career for Grammer. It is her passion.

“Our voice is our identity. It’s how people understand how we’re feeling. It’s how we express we’re hungry. It’s how we have occupation. When we take that away from someone we have amputated their self identity,” Grammer said. “I’m very humbled. I don’t do this for any intrinsic reward. I do it because I want to make a difference, and I like helping people.”

Giving back to the community was more difficult this pandemic year.

For Grammer, it meant Camp Sunrise would need to be put on hold.

“With the sunrise comes the hope of a new day, and that’s all of us really have in life is the hope of a new day.”

When COVID-19 caused camp to be canceled, Grammer pivoted and turned her three-day overnight camp into a one-day day camp instead.

“This truly has become my ministry in life,” said Grammer.

Camp Sunrise is one of the only camps organized for adults.

“We just get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fellowship among friends. This isn’t about what we medical professionals can do for them. It’s what we can all do for each other to enjoy life.

Nominate someone for Pay it 4Ward! Fill out this form with as much detail as possible.

Pay it 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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