JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Coping with the death of a loved one is difficult. But it's especially challenging for children. On Friday, dozens of kids who have lost a family member to homicide on the First Coast headed to Clay County for a very special camp.
As Kathy Floyd packed up her children's bags for camp, she got pretty excited for her girls. Knowing they'll be able to swim, go rock climbing and open up about the death of their big brother.
Adrian Floyd was shot and killed at just 19 years old on October 26, 2009. Floyd said it took quite some time to be able to hold back the tears. And for her daughters, the pain is still difficult to bear.
"Oh they cried hard," said Floyd. "They really took it hard."
But with the help of Compassionate Families and Camp Maddie, she said Charlene and Alexis are smiling a bit brighter these days.
"It relieves you when you hear other stories," said Floyd.
You'll see dozens of smiles at the YMCA Camp Immokalee just north of Keystone Heights. Kids who have dealt with similar losses speak freely about their experiences, all while enjoying some therapeutic fun times. It's a life saver for the hundreds of kids and families this who get to experience a release. One Floyd and her girls are certainly grateful for.
Nearly 300 campers have packed their bags over the last five years and headed to Camp Maddie. Named in honor of Maddie Clifton, an 8-year-old Jacksonville girl killed back in 1998.
The goal here is to help these campers cope with the day-to-day challenges of losing a loved one to homicide. And organizers want to make sure these kids understand they are not alone. In Jacksonville so far this year, there have been 79 homicides.
And behind each of those deaths there are several other victims left behind.
First Coast News