Although he may be Turlock's most famous quarterback, for the past four years Colin Kaepernick has taken time away from the gridiron one day each summer to swing iron at the Against All Odds Golf Tournament to benefit Camp Taylor.
Kaepernick, along with 168 golfers, spent Monday at the Del Rio Golf and Country Club in Modesto in an effort to raise much-needed funds for Camp Taylor — a free, medically supervised summer camp for children with heart disease.
Although Kaepernick is fresh off a couple of surgeries and getting ready for his sixth season with the 49ers under new head coach Chip Kelly — where he will be competing against Blaine Gabbert for the starting QB position — it was important for the former Turlocker to participate in the Camp Taylor golf tournament.
"It's very grounding; it puts things in perspective. It gives you that perspective on what's really important in life, what really means the most and where your time and focus should be spent. These are kids who, from the time they were born, were dealt a difficult hand and they're succeeding, they're winning and I don't think you can put a price or any priority above that," said Kaepernick.
Camp Taylor is an organization close to Kaepernick's heart. Over 30 years ago his parents, Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, became one of the thousands of families who suffered the loss of a child due to congenital heart defects — not once, but twice in a two year span.
A year after their loss, the Kaepernicks were blessed with the birth of a healthy daughter, whom they named Devon. Devon joined her big brother, Kyle, who was born healthy before his two brothers with heart defects.
The Kaepernicks went on with life, never forgetting their sons and the struggles they went through. When Devon was six years old, however, both Rick and Teresa decided their family was not quite complete. Not wanting to risk having another child born with heart defects, they decided to adopt. And that is when Colin came into their lives.
Colin formed a tight bond with Camp Taylor since being drafted by the 49ers in 2011. Shortly after receiving his first NFL paycheck, Kaepernick quietly donated money to Camp Taylor in honor of his parents.
He has since supported the organization with not only funding, but by visiting the campers and raising awareness for heart disease.
Since its founding in 2002, the camp for children with heart disease and their families has provided not only traditional camp activities but also bonding experiences for kids who deal with life and death on a daily basis.
"Their self esteem really builds at camp when they meet other children for the first time with the matching zipper scar and they have the opportunity to share their worries, their fears and their hopes and their dreams. With Colin's acceptance of the kids and his love for them, and the time that he gives them, it helps them to feel accepted on a whole different level and makes them feel more confident about themselves. They go back to school after camp in the summertime feeling more empowered, feeling better about their own skin that they're in, really accepting their disease and learning coping strategies," said Camp Taylor founder Kimberlie Gamino.
For more information or to donate to Camp Taylor, visit www.kidsheartcamp.org.