Augusta, GA (WJBF) – Honoring women making a big difference in our community, in a self-less, positive way without public recognition. WJBF NewsChannel 6 Women to Watch segments highlight successful and driven women with a heart for service and their community. Barclay Bishop shares Kaci Johnson’s story. She is working hard to make Camp Lakeside in Lincolnton, Georgia a place all children can enjoy.
The groundbreaking may be ceremonial, but the sight of Kaci Johnson with a shovel in her hand is a fitting symbol that she’s no stranger to hard work. Now, the construction begins on Lincoln County’s Camp Lakeside.
“We are overwhelmed by where this has come from, that small conversation, a simple conversation, led to so much. And, Duncan and I know that those seeds were planted by Christ to move us to glorify Him through what we had gone through.”
What Kaci and her husband, Duncan, went through was their son’s pediatric cancer. Their baby, “Little Duncan” as he is known, was diagnosed at age 3 with an aggressive cancer, Burkitt’s Lymphoma, and spent months in treatment at what is now the Children’s Hospital of Georgia (CHOG).
“We, as a family, of course, had that outpouring of love from the community, as well. And then, you want to do the same for the place that gave you that chance, again,” Kaci said.
Little Duncan is now a healthy 10-year-old boy. He and his sister, Morgan, have spent many summers at Camp Rainbow, for kids with cancer and survivors.
Kaci said Camp Rainbow and CHOG’s child life specialists were bright spots in an otherwise dark time. “He, of course, did not like his treatments at all. But, if you were to ask him today what he remembers, it would be the presents, the air hockey and the snacks and riding in the wagons and playing Nerf guns. That’s what he takes away, and that is in, large part, due to those ladies who make that happen.”
So, when they mentioned they wanted a local camp, Kaci’s work began. “**That** is what I want for our kickoff and he thought I was crazy, of course,” she said.
**That** is Entertainer Of The Year Luke Bryan.
Kaci launched the “Play It Forward” concert series and scored Country superstars Luke Bryan and Josh Turner to play the first two intimate concerts for camp donors.
Plenty of things and people have worked together to make this day possible for Camp Lakeside, but with her family, Kaci has driven the fundraising arm for the organizations. The longtime Family Y camp will now be fully adaptive, complete with a zero-entry pool for healthy children and those dealing with any number of medical issues.
“Our plans have a zip line that is on hydraulics that can take these babies in wheelchairs and scoot them right across the lake,” Kaci said.
Local campers will soon bunk up in cabins and play among the Georgia pines…and for many, forget about their illness or limitations…if only for a moment.
“This is much bigger than what we can imagine. This is for the child at home who’s never been to camp because they can’t afford it, that may not know where their next meal comes from, who isn’t accustomed to a bedtime story, or doesn’t know how to swim or has never caught their first fish. That’s what this property is all about,” Kaci said.
For her dream of building a summer camp for all kids to just be kids and creating a way to make those dreams come true, Kaci Johnson is a WJBF NewsChannel 6 Woman to Watch.
Women like Kaci and the dozens of others we’ve featured over the years are all unique. But, they have much in common, they make the CSRA a better place to live for us all. We look forward to receiving your nominations for WJBF NewsChannel 6 Women to Watch. You can do that on here or email them to Barclay Bishop.