Valley fever can leave children with painful memories. You can help provide those children with some happy ones by spreading the word about the second annual Valley Fever Kids Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 19 at Camelot Park in Bakersfield.
The idea for a pediatrics day came from Anita Soliz. Anita is the mother of Paul, a young man who struggled for several years with a severe case of valley fever. For many months he was confined to a wheelchair as the medication he was taking to attack the disease affected his muscles. She dreamed of being able to organize a day of fun for children who have valley fever and their families and friends. Last year that dream became a reality with the first Valley Fever Kids Day.
The Valley Fever Americas Foundation will give away up to 100 wristbands for children who have valley fever. The special wristbands will be good for mini golf, Go Karts, rookie Grand Prix, mini jets and bumper boats at Camelot Park plus a $5 game card and lunch of pizza and a drink.
To reserve your child’s free wristband, please call or text the child’s first name and age to Sharon at 661-319-2098. Free wristbands will be available on the day of the event while supplies last.
Parents, siblings and friends may purchase wristbands at www.camelotparkbakersfield.com. Look for the valley fever wristband at the discounted price of $15. If you order online, $5 of the purchase price will be donated to the Valley Fever Americas Foundation through the generosity of Camelot Park. Wristbands are needed if you want to go on rides, but are not needed to accompany your children into the park. While at the park with your child, you can enjoy music, learn more about valley fever, participate in an opportunity drawing for some super prizes, visit the snack bar and more. The Texas Roadhouse Armadillo will provide some fun photo opportunities.
Bella Martinez is one of the valley fever kids who had a great time attending the event last year. She came with her friends, Chrissy and Lauren. She says it was so much fun. She got to drive for the first time (with Go Karts!), played mini golf, did all the other rides and even played games and won prizes. Her mother, Crystal Martinez, says the event is great for families, with activities for all ages. She also says, “it was nice to talk to other people about valley fever and share our own experiences with this horrible disease.”
Bella was diagnosed with valley fever shortly after birth and spent many months in the hospital. Treatment for the infant included Amphotericin B delivered straight into the bloodstream, a drug adult patients often call “AmphoTerrible” because it is like getting chemo for cancer. Bella is 10-years-old now and doing very well! She is exactly who we had in mind when planning this event. Seeing her in her “survivor” shirt looking proud and happy just made everyone’s day.
We would love for all children whose lives have been impacted by valley fever to have the opportunity to enjoy the day, but we need the help of our community to find and encourage them to attend. Please pass it on.
Sandra Larson lives in Bakersfield with her husband George. She is a member of the Bakersfield East Rotary, which spearheaded the establishment of the Valley Fever Americas Foundation in 1995 to support promising valley fever vaccine research. She is currently a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors with a new focus on finding a cure.