Client Spotlight: Tyler Guffey- Growing Up with HoG
By Jeff Cornett RN MSN, Director of Training, Research, & Advocacy
Ask any of Hemophilia of Georgia’s staff and they’ll tell you that one of the most rewarding aspects of their jobs is the opportunity to work with clients long-term and assist them at all stages of their lives. Most of Hemophilia of Georgia’s current client activities, including Camp Wannaklot, Family Camp, and Teen Retreat, began in the 1990s. The young children who attended those events are now young adults. We talked to one of them, Tyler Guffey, who has transitioned from being a participant to a leader.
Tyler first attended Camp Wannaklot in 1998. He describes those first moments at camp as being “a little scary.” He quickly made friends though and found it especially nice to meet others like him: “I don’t remember meeting anyone else with a bleeding disorder before. It was awesome.” As he attended camp each year, he saw it “grow and get more organized.” This summer will be his sixth year as a volunteer counselor. When he turned 18, he spent three years as a cabin counselor and then joined the leadership team at camp. The volunteers on the leadership team ensure that camp runs smoothly and are the real work horses for the Camp Director. Tyler is up in the morning before everyone else and is usually one of the last in bed. Since making friends at camp was so important to Tyler, he tries to “make sure that all the kids get together and bond.” He wants them to have the benefit he did of going through life with friends who share a bleeding disorder diagnosis.
After he experienced Camp Wannaklot, Tyler brought the rest of his household to Family Camp. He found Family Camp offered “a lot more learning – a lot more in-depth” teaching. Not only did he learn more about his bleeding disorder but his mom did too. Each year his family also attends the HoG Client Dinner nearest his home. “It’s really cool to actually know people who live around you [with bleeding disorders] – some of them are like family now.” Not only do they provide emotional support, but they have helped each other with factor infusions too.
In his teen years, and then as a volunteer leader, Tyler has participated in HoG’s annual Teen Retreat. His favorite was the year they visited Asheville, NC and toured the Biltmore Estate. He likes the way the Teen Retreat rotates to different destinations each year and feels the addition of service projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday greatly enhances the experience.
As you can tell, Tyler is dedicated to serving others. When Hemophilia of Georgia announced the creation of a Junior Board of Directors, he immediately wanted to be involved. “It’s been amazing to get to raise money for HoG, mentor the teens, and give back to the organization that has given me so much.” He advises HoG clients to get involved with all of the activities for which they are eligible – “they all piece together and complement each other.” You can read more about Tyler’s work on the HoG Junior Board of Directors in this newsletter article from last October: http://www.hog.org/publications/detail/junior-board-of-directors-spotlight-get-to-know-us.