CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Barbara Denton has made it her mission to help children with serious medical issues such as illnesses or disabilities. Through her nonprofit Camp Rise Above, she has succeeded in changing thousands of children’s lives.

The program has been in the works for over a decade. Denton said the idea came to her while she was at Bible study back in 2008. By 2010, she was hosting day camps in the Playroom of MUSC. From there, the program expanded to all five of South Carolina’s major hospitals and now includes overnight camps at places like James Island County Park.

The objective is to serve children who may have a hard time participating in other overnight camps, but still want the experience.

“To create independence, to create self confidence, to let them be with kids that are just like them and have total acceptance,” Denton explained.

She points to Camp Cole outside of Columbia. It offers week-long experiences free of charge. Denton said the impact that the camp has on kids is clear.

“You just see them blossom throughout the whole camp. At the end they’re hugging each other and crying… There’s nothing better than being with somebody that understands the same struggles that you go through.”

While her ultimate goal is for camps like hers to be obsolete because all the diseases have been cured, she said that she will be around for as long the service is needed.