FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Camp Red Cedar offers individuals of all abilities to learn, explore, play, and grow. They offer a recreational therapy program that helps kids and adults develop functional and independent abilities. To help with those programs, Camp Red Cedar has multiple volunteer opportunities. Fort Wayne native 67-year-old Jim Neddeff is one of those generous volunteers who make their recreational therapy program possible.
You will often find Neddeff with his Beloved horse, Tuff. When Tuff’s owner died, he lost his desire to trot. But Neddeff helped him find his gallop again.
“We just started off by walking him like a dog up and down the street up and down the road back into the woods, in the field by the lake,” said Neddeff. “The more Tuff started to come around and show who he really is, not so Tuff, very sweet.”
Neddeff and Tuff returned to Camp Red Cedar to share their love for riding with others.
“It was like coming home again for me here so we both came back home here,” Neddeff said.
Being a volunteer at Camp Red Cedar is a vital part of the organization’s operations. Without volunteers like Neddeff, they couldn’t fulfill their mission.
“From the start with Jim, we knew that he was going to be a great addition to our crew of volunteers,” said Michael Kuhn, Development Director, Camp Red Cedar. “He came in with such passion and such dedication and such a great heart and that’s really what we look for in our volunteers, not just somebody who is going to come in and do tasks but somebody who really cares about what they are doing here.”
During the summer, when campers are enjoying the outdoors and each other, a switch flips in his demeanor.
“Who needs to go on vacation, it’s a vacation here every day it’s just wonderful,” explained Neddeff. “It takes me back to what my dad always said, just be a good guy and help others.”
Neddeff compares Camp Red Cedar to heaven, where he gets to be with his horse and the campers every week.
“My job is to look out for others do I stumble and fall? Yes I do,” said Neddeff. “But I try to get back up and ride with it, literally and figuratively let’s ride with it.”
Neddeff is just one of 50 volunteers at Camp Red Cedar. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, click here.