Cowboys greats give back to special camp

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by DEBBIE DENMON / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on March 16, 2010 at 6:52 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 16 at 6:54 PM

DALLAS — Former Dallas Cowboys player Ron Springs had a mission after his successful kidney transplant from teammate Everson Walls.

That mission was carried out Tuesday when Walls and Springs' Gift for Life Foundation donated $50,000 to National Kidney Foundation to support Camp Reynal.

Springs attended the camp and saw how children who struggled with dialysis mustered up the strength to play.

"It was really dear to his heart, and something he knew that by going on dialysis seeing the struggles that this is something he wanted to help out with," said Springs' wife, Adriane.

Camp Reynal frees children with severe kidney and/or urological disease to just be themselves.

Wayne Curtis, who is now 17, attended the camp for eight years and didn't want to miss the big donation ceremony at Children's Medical Center Dallas. He hopes to return as a counselor to the camp this year now that he's undergone a kidney transplant himself.

"It was the first time at that camp that out of my own backyard, that I could swim without my shirt on," Curtis said. "I was embarrassed because I had scars or tubes or whatever in me, but everybody else did, too."

Curtis says children at the camp don't have to worry about stares or being teased, but that comes at a cost. It's $1,000 per child for the week-long camp.

Curtis' family never paid a dime. Thanks to donations like the one Springs and Walls made on Tuesday, the the camp is free, providing children ages eight to 16 with the opportunity of a true camping experience where kids can participate in archery, horseback riding, swimming, and playing football.

Ron Springs was absent at the special check presentation because he remains in a coma.

Adriane Springs wishes her husband could seen the excited children attending the event, imagining that they may be one of the lucky ones to benefit from the foundation's generosity.

"I'm emotional, so I know he would have been," a tearful Adriane Springs said. "This is what he always wanted to use his foundation to support these children."

Everson Walls — who donated a kidney to his teammate — signed autographs for Wayne Curtis, that same teenager who loved camp and how it boosted his self-esteem.

Curtis thanked the two Cowboys for bringing awareness to kidney disease and organ transplants, and for giving children an opportunity to just be kids for a week.

Camp Reynal takes place in May each year. Children's Medical Center in Dallas and Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth partner to offer about 100 children an opportunity to focus on having fun despite the challenges of living with kidney and/or urological disease.

Springs thought his legacy would be as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, but it is obviously so much more.

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com

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