The Vacation Of A Lifetime

If you're mentally disabled and you've lived with your parents your whole life, it's got to be scary to go away to a sleepover camp.

Not at the Down Home Ranch near Austin, Texas.

"You don't miss your family when you're here?" asked CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman.

Camper Cody Lightfoot told him simply: "Nope."

Lightfoot has cerebral palsy. This is his fourth year at the ranch.

"I just have so much fun I don't worry about anything," Lightfoot said.

Another camper, Vicki said: "I love it because you can be yourself and you're not afraid to be yourself."

Judy and Jerry Horton started Down Home Ranch after their daughter Kelly was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Today their camp has everything a regular camp would have. Everything. It is in Texas after all.

As you can tell, a lot of the campers never want to go home. But what's really interesting about this place is that some of the campers — don't ever have to.

Thirty-two-year-old Julia Burns moved to the ranch after discovering something about herself she never knew until she visited — that she's not like her family back in Austin.

"They're city people," Burns said.

So she's meant to be a country girl?

"Oh yes, Life here on the ranch is peaceful," she said. "I really like it very much."

Down Home Ranch now has more than half a dozen country homes housing 17 residents.

"Basically what we wanted was a good, old-fashioned neighborhood," Judy said. "Where every place they go is safe and somebody is there who is welcoming to them and who loves them."

"It is very good because then we can contact other friends and do stuff," Burns said.

The Hortons really hope this idea catches on — for the sake of all the other mentally disabled people out there who go to camp one week a year — and dream about it for the other 51.
  • Christine Lagorio

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