There’s no doubt about it. Brittany Frisk’s dad would be awfully proud of her. This fall, nearly 18 years after his death, she packed up her hopes, dreams—and her sunscreen—and headed off to Northern Arizona University to begin her studies in chemistry with a concentration in forensics and criminology. In a way, Safe Crossings and Camp Erin went along with her.
To understand Brittany’s journey, you need to go back to 1998, when Brittany’s dad Richard passed away, leaving his wife Kathy and three young children (Riley; 6, Jarred; 3 and Brittany, a tiny baby of just four months) behind. It wasn’t long before Kathy found Safe Crossings.
“My children would not be as healthy as they are today if they had not had so much support at such a young age,” Kathy said. Riley was the first Frisk sibling to attend Camp Erin, and he kept coming back until he became a Big Buddy himself.
Since Brittany was so much younger, she had to wait her turn to finally get to go to camp.
“Before I went to Camp Erin, I felt alone and isolated when Father’s Day would come,” Brittany recalls. “We’d make all these cute presents at school, and I would just go home and cry to my mom because I had no one to give my gift to.”
That feeling of being the only one dealing with loss melted away when Brittany got to camp. “I remember finally feeling like I wasn’t alone; that all these other kids had lost a loved one too and we all felt the same grief. It’s been almost 18 years since my father passed away, and I still use the coping skills Camp Erin taught me.”
The bonds Brittany made with fellow campers and staff weren’t the only life-changing connections to come out of the experience. When a college counselor suggested writing a college funding appeal letter, Kathy thought of longtime Safe Crossings supporter and former Board member Rick Redman.
“I met [Brittany’s brother] Riley at an annual Safe Crossings luncheon, just a year or two after his dad died,” Rick recalled. Rick also remembers feeling a certain kinship with Riley since he himself lost his father when he was only 12. Rick stayed in touch with Riley after that first meeting, letting him know he was there if Riley needed him.
When Rick read Brittany’s letter, he was immediately struck by her passion and the thoughtful way she had embarked on her chosen path. Here’s an excerpt:
“My dad passed away when I was four months old and my mother had to sell the business she and my dad started in order to raise my brothers and me… We have never been fiscally at ease… I’ve done what I can to prepare for a productive future; I’ve taken rigorous courses in high school and earned a great GPA… I will be the first in my family to receive a college degree… I plan on studying chemistry with a focus on criminal justice… I need financial help to take the next steps.”
“Brittany really set her goal and did things right,” Rick said. “She was so committed to criminology and forensics,” which, he added, weren’t “typical aspirations; this decision was grounded in logical rational thought.” After talking it over with his wife Jenny, he also decided to share the letter with his longtime friends, Ron and Wanda Crockett.
“They called me right back—they truly value education—and said ‘count us in.’” Rick recalled. Kathy simply calls his support “a blessing.”
Brittany’s gratitude is equally heartfelt. She’s well into her first year at Northern Arizona, where she’s planning to fend off the “freshman 15” by climbing the school’s rock wall… if she can find some down time between the six classes she’s taking this semester. And though she’d never been far from her hometown of Lynnwood, WA, she’s pleased with her choice and happy for all the support she’s gotten from the Safe Crossings family, a sentiment that’s reflected in another personal story of Brittany’s.
“At a Safe Crossings event, my brothers and I were invited up on stage to share our experiences at Camp Erin. As my brothers began speaking about how Camp Erin brought our family closer together and the benefits they’ve received over the years, I just lost it and bawled my eyes out, right up on stage! The difference was, I wasn’t crying tears of sadness for losing my dad…I wasn’t thinking about how he wouldn’t see me graduate or walk me down the aisle. I was crying tears of joy not only for all that Safe Crossings and the Moyer Foundation has done for my family, but also for the thousands of other kids they’ve helped over the years.”
Best of luck, Brittany. Just like your dad would have been, we’re awfully proud to know you.
Post by freelance writer and Camp Erin volunteer, Vicki Wilson