Two local children had a special reunion with a friend from Camp Taylor on Sunday. San Francisco 49ers quarterback and native Turlocker Colin Kaepernick celebrated his team's win against the Miami Dolphins with the two campers at Candlestick Park.
Morgan and Ethan first met Kaepernick at Camp Taylor, a camp for children with congenital heart defects. The rising pro football star has supported Camp Taylor for the past few years in honor of his parents, Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, who lost two young sons to heart problems before they adopted Colin.
“Camp Taylor is the organization I’ve been working with a lot because it hits close to home,” Kaepernick said to 49ers blogger Alex Espinoza after the game. “For my family, for my parents, I thought it would be a good thing to do out of respect for them and love for them. It’s a tragedy that they’ve gone through and if in any way I can help people going through that or try to prevent that, I want to do anything I can to help that cause.”
Kaepernick's continued support of Camp Taylor has meant a lot to the camp's founder and director, Kimberlie Gamino.
"He unselfishly gives his time at camp and he wanted an opportunity for the kids to see him in action at Candlestick Park," said Gamino about Sunday's reunion.
Last summer, Kaepernick visited with the kids at Camp Taylor's Livermore site where he played in the pool, sat in on a heart education class, ate with the campers in the cafeteria and even sang a song for the entire camp.
"There are three things I know for sure about Colin," said Gamino. "One, he's a kid magnet; two, he has a generous and giving heart that runs deep; and three, he knows all the words to 'This Little Light of Mine.'"
One of the most touching moments of Sunday's reunion for Gamino was when Kaepernick was presented with a handmade bracelet in 49ers colors and he immediately took out of his backpack the first bracelet the Camp Taylor kids made for him in July.
"Every kid with heart disease is a fan of him — at least our campers are," Gamino said.
Camp Taylor, which is held in Livermore, Sangar and Santa Clara every summer, provides a variety of activities free of charge to children with heart disease and their families. The camp hosts a full medical staff, and is designed to be safe and fun allowing all of those attending the camp to participate. Last year, Camp Taylor served 500 people, Gamino said.
The nonprofit and volunteer-supported camp will be holding its annual fundraiser, "Valentine Hearts" on Feb.2 . The dinner and auction will be held at the Double Tree Grand Ballroom in Modesto. Tickets are $80 each or $750 for an advance table of 10, and can be purchased at KidsHeartCamp.org. Event sponsors and auction items are still needed. Contact Kimberlie Gamino for more information at 545-4715.
The Colin Kaepernick and Camp Taylor Benefit Golf Tournament will be held sometime this summer. Visit KidsHeartCamp.org for more information on the exact date and details, coming soon.