Thirty years ago on April 12, 1983, at five months old, Chevon LaRis Powell suffered severe burns in an apartment fire that destroyed her family’s dwelling place and all their possessions. She and her parents, Cheryl and Anthony Powell, suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Chevon’s burns were so severe that she was given a 50-50 chance of survival.
Not only did she survive, she thrived! May 12, the day Chevon was released from the hospital after the fire, is now known as her second birthday and on May 12, 2013 she will celebrate her 30th birthday (her first was celebrated on November 12, 2012). It has become a family tradition to celebrate her blessed recovery and life. This year the celebration will be in the form of a fund raiser to benefit Camp Janus.
Camp Janus is a Houston based organization that provides a unique recreational, therapeutic, and educational camping experience for children ages 5 to 18 who have recovered from burn injuries. According to Anna, a close friend Chevon met at camp 20 years ago, “Camp Janus was the highlight of my childhood summers. It was a place where I could truly be myself, free of stares and ridicule. Camp provided the opportunity for fishing, arts and crafts, horseback riding, along with making lifelong friends in a fun and supporting environment. I always had a blast there.” – Camper ’89- ’98, Counselor ’10- present, On-Call Accompaniment Advocate/ Volunteer Crisis Intervention Advocate. Many of the campers share this sentiment.
Since its inception, Camp Janus has been extremely successful in accomplishing its purpose of giving children an opportunity to socialize with their peers in a pleasant out-of-doors-camp environment where both their physical and psychosocial recovery is enhanced and where physical challenges are only incidental. The Camp Janus weekend is completely free for the children including local transportation to and from the camp. Funding is provided through donations handled by the Memorial Hermann Foundation.
The camp helps to build the confidence and esteem of burn survivors through various activities. For many kids, this is the only opportunity they get to put on a swimsuit and run and play in the pool without being self-conscious of others watching them. The Saturday night dance was the hit of the camp and a time when the kids could sing and dance, enjoying their young lives.
The camp dances were a special treat as music and dancing have always been a part of Chevon’s life. She grew up listening to the Isley Brothers, her father’s favorite group, and knew the words to every song. She loved to dance at family parties, as the adults would take her in their arms and spin her around. She has moved on from the Isley Brothers, and has an eclectic taste in music that includes country and western, jazz, rock and funk. The last CD she downloaded was Jose James.
At the age of 14, after numerous surgeries and skin grafts, Camp Janus gave Chevon the confidence to say “No”, to any more medical procedures. She decided she would live life as it came and did so by writing poetry and songs to cope with the frustrustations of life when times became too difficult. She completed her education at Johnson and Whales University with a degree in Sports Entertainment and Event Management. She is currently an event planning consultant and works throughout the United States and South America.
Chevon lives in Seattle, Washington and is the niece, goddaughter and namesake (middle name) of Live Music Movement Foundation Chairperson Kathy Drayton.
Celebrate this wonderful occasion with the Powell Family by making a donation online to support Camp Janus. Or if you are in the Houston area on Friday, May 10, stop by the Crab Boil fund raiser at the Carriage Lane Club House, 8303 West Road, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. There will be music and dancing. For more information contact Chevon Powell at 832-265-1161 or Kathy Drayton at 818-259-0493.