“Vote Kids” is the title of this year’s fundraiser for Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children, to be held Tuesday in Killeen — because every dollar raised for the charity is a vote for children’s health.
The local nonprofit facilitates outdoor activities for approximately 5,000 children with special needs or illnesses from across the state each year on its 125-acre property on the Lampasas River.
The event will honor a special child, Hunter King, with the first-ever “Empowerment Child Award.”
King, 15, has been a regular at the nature camp since he first visited at the age of 6.
Now a 10th-grader at Florence High School, King has participated for nine years in the weeklong summer camp called Camp Soaring Eagle, organized by the McLane Children’s Hospital at Scott & White.
The camp is specialized for children who have neurological disorders.
Camp director Leah Woodward told a story from this summer about how King, who suffers from cerebral palsy, encouraged a first-year camper to try the zipline.
“There wasn’t anything the counselor or I could do to get her to go,” Woodward said.
King offered the young girl a few words of quiet encouragement and by the end of the day, the girl passed over the line, Woodward said.
“Because of what he did, it gave her the confidence to do the activity,” Woodward said.
Ericka Mitchell, development director for Peaceable Kingdom, said King has always been a great help to camp counselors because of his enthusiasm and passion for life.
“We’ve really seen him grow up,” Mitchell said. “He loves to laugh and he cares about people.”
Peaceable Kingdom hopes to raise $50,000 through ticket sales, contributions and its silent auction of items that include a Roger Staubach-signed football, tickets to Disney World and items donated by local businesses.
“We have thousands of visitors from throughout the state,” Mitchell said. “We are fortunate to have donors that help us keep the doors open at the park.”
The event is Peaceable Kingdom’s largest fundraiser of the year.
Mitchell said event organizers are planning for 200 attendees Tuesday, but walk-ins are welcome.
Banquet food will be provided by Las Casas restaurant and Starbucks coffee. The evening will also feature entertainment from the Belton High School Show Choir and a special program designed to showcase the children served by the charity.