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York County couple, grandkids volunteered at camp for children with special needs

FLAT ROCK, N.C. — One of the many ways Robert and Barbara Lesslie gave back to their community was to serve at Camp Joy, a camp for children with special needs. The Lesslies volunteered there for decades and would sometimes even bring their grandkids along.

The camp is located outside of Flat Rock in the North Carolina mountains. It serves about 200 children and adults with special needs and it’s a place the Lesslie family gave their heart and soul to.

Pictures from the camp show Barbara and Robert Lesslie dancing with campers.

“Our campers were angels from Heaven that God sent down to help us,” Camp Joy co-founder Ann Brice said. “Robert and Barbara were that same way.”

Brice co-founded Camp Joy in 1980 and in the early 2000s, the Lesslie’s began volunteering for the organization.

“At 6:30 in the morning she was running around out here on the grounds, busy and she was going like this, and she loved the children, loved on everybody,” Brice said.

Robert Lesslie was the camp doctor, making sure everyone had their medication and driving them to the hospital if they needed to go.

“I felt like we needed that doctor for all the medicine that they came with. Sometimes with suitcases of medicine, ya know, because these children have health problems,” Brice said.

Camp Joy’s campers have special needs -- many have severe medical conditions and need extra care. Sometimes that care, came from the grandchildren, Adah and Noah, who played feature roles in the bible stories the kids learned.

“The grandchildren, they would come, but they all got dressed up and would act out the daily bible story that they were studying,” Brice said.

The camp’s quaint, mountain setting was a place the family could encourage others and teach their own the value of loving people who are different than you.

Brice said she still struggles to believe what happened in Rock Hill.

“It doesn’t seem real,” Brice said. “It seems like I’m gonna wake up from this nightmare, and it’s all been a dream, but I know it’s not.”

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