Anne Marie Gefell – 2016 ESL Jefferson Award Winner

March 30, 2018 01:28 PM

All week we will be honoring this year’s ESL Jefferson Award winners. The award recognizes those who volunteer their time to make our community a better place.

Anne Marie Gefell is a burn survivor who helps kids overcome their own wounds through the Finger Lakes Burn Association's "Camp Courage."


Who better to understand what it's like to be a burn survivor, than another person who has been through the pain, both physically, and emotionally. “I have a lot of hidden scars, I didn't show my scars for a very long time,” Anne says.

Anne Marie Gefell of Greece was burned over 60 percent of her body as a teenager while lighting a fire with gasoline. She now volunteers for the Finger Lakes Burn Association and is Director of Camp Courage, helping kids with similar stories.

“There's just that connection like anything in life,” Anne Marie says. “If you've had somebody else that's been through it, you just know what they are going through. There's that love and support there.”

Camp Courage is a five-day summer camp offered to kids in western and central New York.  Anne Marie says, “I could see through the kids eyes what I had gone through and that was really part of the acceptance for me and I thought, this all happened for a reason. I need to do this, I need to give back. “

Anne Marie has particularly made a connection with Shawn Gibson of Rochester, a freshmen at Franklin who was burned at age two in a tub of scalding hot water.

“She's there for us when we need her, even when we're not at camp,” Shawn says. “If we need her, she's there for us.   

Shawn is now mentoring younger kids at camp and says his recovery is because of Anne Marie. 

Anne Marie is humbled by her ESL Jefferson Award. “I don’t' like to be focused on,” Anne Maries says. “It's not about me, it's about the kids and the families I try to serve, and I couldn't do it without all the other volunteers who help me throughout the year.” 

More information on the Finger Lakes Burn Association is available here


Rebecca Leclair

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