ARRM Care Nomination: Chad Dodds

Kevin looked forward to attending Camp HERO (Helping Everyone Remove Obstacles) every summer. Then due to some personal challenges, the vacation that had brought him joy began to cause him great distress—even the word camp would incite anxiety.

Chad began working as Kevin’s DSP two years ago. Chad stood by Kevin’s side during mental health ups and downs and the two formed a bond based on trust and respect. Chad was Kevin’s biggest cheerleader and this year he recognized that with some planning and adaptations, Kevin just might be ready to enjoy Camp HERO again.

The conversations about camp started out slowly and grew when Chad incorporated pictures. When Kevin began showing more interest in camp, Chad included Kevin’s entire team in the conversation. They decided Chad should take Kevin to Camp and the planning began.

Understanding Kevin’s need of seeing things first hand, Chad planned a trip to South Dakota so Kevin could familiarize himself with the layout of the camp. Chad thought of all the details—from the exact room they would be staying in, to the table they would be eating their meals at. They toured where Kevin could ride horses, where he could fish and visited the ultimate spot—where Kevin could roast endless amounts of s’mores. Chad also made sure to visit rooms where Kevin could escape from noise and commotion if needed.

While the trial trip to South Dakota was successful, Chad continued to work with Kevin to prepare for the real deal—Camp HERO They repeatedly went over the activity schedule, looked at pictures of the grounds and visited about the two hour car ride. They talked about what they would do if Kevin needed some time away from other campers or if things weren’t going the way he wanted.

With Chad’s support, positive attitude, and thorough understanding of Kevin’s needs, the trip to Camp HERO was successful. Kevin enjoyed a pontoon ride, hay ride, went to a street dance and ventured away from a meal at the cafeteria to cook around a campfire. I don’t know who was smiling more at camp Chad or Kevin!

Today the word camp incites feelings of happiness in Kevin—anxiety now only stems from the long wait until next summer.

Chad was one of 150 Minnesota DSPs nominated for a 2017 ARRM Cares Award for his work at CCRI. The ARRM Cares Award program began in 1996 to recognize professional caregivers who provide exemplary service to people with disabilities. Recipients of this award have demonstrated they are committed to providing innovative, professional services to people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. Each year, six outstanding Minnesotans are selected for this award.

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