It all started with a conversation in Brien Dews’ clock repair shop in Rockford, Michigan.
Dews, a burn survivor and long-time member of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, was speaking with friend Todd Olson regarding their mutual admiration of Volkswagen buses. After deciding to organize a charitable event involving fellow bus enthusiasts, they only had to decide on a charity to send any funds they raised.
“I told him ‘I have just the charity – the Phoenix Society,’” said Dews. Ten years later, Buses by the Beach has donated over $100,000 to the Phoenix Society, supporting burn survivors everywhere.
The group’s first event welcomed 12 buses, comprised primarily of family and friends. Now over 100 buses pour onto the Buses by the Beach grounds. The group has even created two spin-offs from its flagship gathering, a fall event before Halloween called ‘Bus BOO!’ and another during winter named the ‘Bus BRRR.’
Funds raised from each gathering provide community support, resources and tools offered through the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.
Speaking at the Buses by the Beach’s 10th anniversary in May, Lily Chatterjee thanked the group and shared what support from donors like those in attendance means to the life of a burn survivor.
Injured in a car accident in December of 1987, Lily shared that recovery is a long road and there were times she felt very alone. She said that finding the Phoenix Society after attending its World Burn Congress program in 1997 gave her a family of support and the tools to live her new life as a burn survivor.
“I have needed the Phoenix Society for different things at different times in my recovery,” Lily said. “I attend World Burn Congress every year and still gain support.”
Stories like the one shared by Lily make the event that much sweeter for Dews.
“It’s very near and dear to me that burn survivors are able to benefit from this,” says Dews.
THANK YOU to Brien, Todd, and all that participate in Buses by the Beach events for your hard work in raising contributions and awareness that will give burn survivors the support and tools needed to thrive again!
Donate to the Phoenix Society and help burn survivors
everywhere get back to living
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