As a hand surgeon at the University of Florida, Dr. Paul Dell has always had a special place in his heart for children with congenital upper limb differences. In 2000, Dr. Dell learned of Hands Down Camp for children with congenital upper limb differences in Dallas, Texas from his colleagues Dr. Mary Beth Izaki and Dr. Peter Carter of Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Dallas.
Ruthie Dell and Ginger Stirna McFadden, Occupational Therapists at U.F.Health visited Hands Down Camp and immediately knew that this was something that they wanted to do back home and in 2001 the first “Hand Camp” was held in Florida!
The first Hand Camp was initially open only to families that had been served in the U.F. clinic. Within 3 years, Hand Camp was open to any family that wanted to participate, and the organization was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit under the name Congenital Hand Camp, Inc. When a vote was taken amongst the charter parents on a name for a website they decided on “Hands to Love,” and it’s stuck ever since!
Hand Camp was created to address the unique physical, social and emotional needs of children with upper limb differences, and provide a fun, success-oriented camp experience for the entire family. The organization continued to grow as an annual camp event and formal support network, and was officially renamed Hands to Love in 2005.
What began as a group of 17 families now serves more than 80 families (and growing) each year! Hands to Love is the only organization of its kind in the southeastern United States and serves families and children from across the USA.