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Klismets donate flag

Goes to Summer Camp for Burn Injured Youth

By Angie Landsverk

When Quinn Hoyord sees a large flag hanging beneath two aerial fire trucks this week, she will know the story of how it got there.

James and Dianna Klismet, of Waupaca Mobil Travel Center, presented the 20-foot by 30-foot American flag to the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin Charitable Foundation and the Alliance for Fire Safety earlier this month in anticipation of the annual Summer Camp for Burn Injured Youths.

The flag is dedicated to the victims and survivors of fire tragedies and is hanging from two fire trucks on one day this week to greet people on Visitors’ Day.

“They used to take our American flag. We would take it down, and they would bring it back,” James Klismet said of the large flag located by his family’s business.

That was the case the last four years, before the Klismets decided to donate a flag to the camp.

Dr. Jan Bax and Reagan Douglas made a wooden box for the storage of the flag. That was part of the donation.

James Klismet learned about the camp from Daniel Gengler.

Gengler, of Waupaca, is a retired Milwaukee Fire Department deputy fire chief and member of the foundation’s board.

He said the flag means a lot to those who see it.

Hoyord and Gengler were part of the local presentation.

Hoyord, of Iola, is among those attending the camp this week.

“The camp is my home away from home,” she said.

The camp, located outside of East Troy, is for burn survivors between age 7 and 17 who required hospitalization or medical treatment and follow-up care for their injuries.

On Oct. 30, 2010, Hoyord was dressed as a witch for a Halloween party.

“We had a huge pot of boiling water as witch’s brew,” she said. “It was uneven on the hill.”

The pot of boiling water tipped and spilled on both of her legs.

“I remember stopping, dropping and rolling, because I thought I was on fire,” Hoyord said.

Hoyord spent two days at a hospital in Stevens Point, where she had her first surgery before being transferred to the burn unit at a Madison hospital.

Her burns turned into third degree, and she had skin grafts done at the Madison hospital.

Hoyord spent a month there.

Today, the 16-year-old is preparing to be a junior at Iola-Scandinavia High School and says she is “good, totally fine.”

This is her sixth year going to the camp, and she loves it.

“It’s not just the activities,” Hoyord said. “People don’t ask questions. Everyone’s in the same boat. It’s like a weight off my shoulders.”

In the Iola area, everyone knows her story, she said.

“When I’m out where people don’t know me, mostly young children will stare and ask me (what happened to her legs). I tell them,” Hoyord said.

She learned about the camp when she was at the burn unit.

The foundation raises funds to support the week-long camp. The first camp took place in Wisconsin in 1995. Children attend it at no cost.

“We have had one every year. We are closing in now on more than 1,500 camp experiences. There are a number of young burn survivors who gone to every camp,” Gengler said.

One reason why they started the camp, he said, was to offer closure for firefighters, nurses and doctors who often wondered what happened to the children they saw who had been injured badly in fires.

Gengler said the camp provides a fun, safe environment for children. There is a schedule of activities for them.

He said one out of every three counselors at the camp is a burn survivor.

Hoyord says her fellow campers feel like family to her.

She also appreciates the support of her family and friends back home and is interested in becoming a nurse.

“I remember my nurses,” Hoyord said. “I want to do that. I want to help people.”

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