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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Inspiration Found at Delta's Disability Fair

This week, the CSG team attended Delta's Disability Fair, celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Delta's ABLE (Advocacy, Barrier-Breaking, Leadership, Education) Network on Disability.

The fair was headed up by David Martin, Disability Program Manager and the President of ABLE for Delta.  I worked under David years ago as a member of Delta's Regulated Team ensuring DOT compliance in air travel.  He continues to be a dedicated leader within the organization and an incredible advocate for those with disabilities. 

We were thrilled to meet representatives from many different organizations who serve a similar purpose to that of CSG - Including Gayle Lee of Nobis Works (,  members of the staff of the Marcus Autism Center (, and others.  We were also happy to spend some time with our friends Marie Sams and Misty Lackey of the wonderful Joseph Sams School (, our neighbor in Fayetteville, GA. 

We were moved by the testimony of guest speaker Jennifer Arnold, the founder of Canine Assistants ( Jennifer's story is one that many can relate to. . . the emotional upheaval that accompanies a life-altering situation, as well as the understanding, dedication, and perseverance that it requires to make a dream a reality. We all now have a better understanding of the special relationship - and the power of unconditional love - between a service dog and their owner. Jennifer's organization has placed over 1,000 service dogs nationally, reached more than 400,000 students through disabilities awareness educational presentations, and provide communities with over 120,000 hours of animal assisted therapy.

Additionally, there are not enough adjectives to describe the inspirational (I know, that's only one - but we could go on and on) keynote speaker, Aimee Copeland.   As many know, only five months ago, Aimee fell off a homemade zip line, resulting in the development of necrotizing fasciitis and the amputation of one leg, her remaining foot, and both hands.  At one point, she was placed on life support. 

Free-spirited student battles for her life photoA lover of nature, the 24-year-old Aimee is studying humanistic psychology with a focus on eco-psychology at the University of West Georgia.  With her bubbly personality and wonderful smile (truly a free spirit and beacon of light) she says, "Motivation is the Key to Innovation" and plans to to develop an accessible Wilderness Therapy program.  Her story, as well as how to help her cause can be found at

The indomitable Aimee Copeland inspired us all, and is an incredible example of the resiliency of the human spirit.  We are honored to have met her.
--Desiree Morris (Exec Assistant) and the CSG Team

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

McBride's Amazing Fundraising Party for CSG

Recently, Tom McBride, one of our Zamily Family, held a fundraiser to benefit Camp Southern Ground.   Sadly, before the event, Tom's father passed away.  However, as Tom says, we know his spirit was "alive and well and all around the party". 

A lot of work went into this amazing event which included music, activities, a 50/50 raffle, delicious food, and more. 

The fundraiser was a great success - and raised $2556.00 for CSG! 

Tom has shared with us the link to the CSG Party Blog Page which includes photos and videos of the party:

We LOVE this poem from the party flyer:


"change for change"
The CSG team thanks Tom and EVERYONE involved with this amazing event -- We are truly grateful for your generosity and support of this amazing facility for kids! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How Spare Change Can Make Dreams A Reality!

Sharing an email sent to us from a Camp Southern Ground Supporter. . .   Thanks Pat Casey!!!

I was at the Peach Festival this past weekend and there was a family of four in front of us.  They were there to see the ZBB show and I was doing the math and figured they dropped close to $400 to get in (we were all up front - the only way to experience the show!!).  So I asked the dad how they decided to see the show and he said after planning a week at the beach they were tapped out.  But he said "lets empty the coin jar" (one of those five gallon plastic water jugs) and he told his family, "what's in there we'll use for the tickets" - That jar had close to 500 bucks in it! 

So how does this relate to raising money for Camp Southern Ground?  It didn't hit me until the next morning when I went shopping on the ZBB site when I saw the Camp T-shirt with the Mason Jar with a "Dream Jar" label. 

How can people save their change and donate it to Camp Southern Ground?  The Dream Jar!  I think the collection of change is an easy and broad-based way to raise a ton a money for the Camp.  

Everybody is dreaming and saving for something... this just opens the door for Camp Southern Ground dreams to become a reality for kids!

Pat Casey

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why we do what we do at Camp Southern Ground. . .

Sharing a Letter to Zac from Christopher’s Mom, Jennifer Laio

Dear Zac,
This is not an application, but I had to write when I saw what you and your wonderful team are doingAs I watched your video, my eyes filled up with tears. I am a mom of an 8-year-old that is diagnosed with ASD.

His name is Christopher and he has already been through so much in his little life to help him overcome all the obstacles (I'm using my manners by choosing that word) that come with this disorder. I am so proud of him, but each day, or week, or month, we still face challenges. One of our challenges is social skills.
I know that I am not the only Mom to ever say this, nor will I be the last, but it is heartbreaking to watch your child struggle to make friends, or get made fun of I can't just let my boy go out and play with the other kids in the neighborhood. If he tries, which is seldom, he usually comes back home with 10 minutes and says somebody was mean, or just simply, "I don't think they want to play with me, Mom." There are few birthday invitations, play dates, sporting events, etc.

I am not writing this in self-pity, but only to make the point that summertime is not a time that our family can just sit back, take a break and he idle. Just like Marie Sams said in your video, it's crucial that we keep our kids busy. But, most importantly, for them to be surrounded with friends and teachers in an accepting, nurturing and loving environment - like the one you are going to offer.
I don't know you personally, but I feel like I am connected to you somehow because of your spirit and dedication to helping children who have trouble helping themselves. For standing up for those who face challenges in life that come easy for so many others. I applaud your mission, and respect you genuinely for the time and effort you are putting forth to make your dream become a reality.

I was raised in Rome, Georgia, but live in Ohio now. I am so excited for the day when we can come back south, "sink our toes in the clay" and visit your camp! I hope this letter makes it to your hands somehow and you are filled with joy knowing that your cause is a blessing for so many families. I believe you're a vessel that God is working through to help our beautiful, innocent children become stronger and happier.

Prayers for your camp's growth and for all those who will make it possible! 

Jennifer Laio
P.S.  I love your music, too!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Zamily Members Support Camp Southern Ground at Gatherings

What started as informal “gatherings” before Zac Brown Band shows have evolved into opportunities for fan club members — know as the Zamily — to show their generosity and raise money for Camp Southern Ground.

“People are crazy motivated to raise money for this camp,” said dedicated Zamily member Amy Biedron of Aurora, Illinois. “Sure we want to get together and visit, but the last few months we’ve really focused on raising money for Camp Southern Ground.”

A neonatal intensive care unit nurse who tries to make it to at least one show a month, Biedron was involved in fundraising efforts at the gatherings before the Pittsburgh and Milwaukee shows. “We weren’t terribly organized… but we held raffles and raised more than $500.” Other gatherings, she said, have raised several thousands of dollars.

“All the members of the Zamily know about Camp Southern Ground and we’re always coming up with new ways to raise money.” For example, the restaurant where the gathering will be held before the Moline, Illinois show has agreed to donate 10% of food and drink sales from the function to the camp. “People are posting how they are raising money on the Zamily Facebook page. There’s a lot of excitement about doing this.”

“We’ve raised thousands of dollars in just the past few gatherings,” she said, “and there’s more to come. This camp is a big deal for all of us in the Zamily.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ohio Sisters Raise More Than $1,000 for Camp Southern Ground

“They raised exactly $1,091.35,” said Jenny Davis, mother of Alli, 13, and Abby, 10. “They saw the camp video online and decided to take it on.”

Davis explained she’s a Zac Brown Band fan, and the family has a close friend with a handicapped daughter who inspires their efforts. “I have raised some money for the camp before, but they did this all on their own.”

The girls started fundraising in May, Davis said, and had a car wash, made and sold pins, and held a pool party at their community pool. They got the use of the pool donated, David explained, and then asked partygoers for contributions.
As they collected funds, “they put the money in a dream jar.” Davis, who hails from Lisbon, Ohio, donated the money while in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania to attend the band’s July 15 show. “I just donated it today,” she said excitedly.

Davis said next on her industrious and generous daughters’ list is actually going to the camp to volunteer. “They want to go down there and work with the kids,” she said, “I am very, very proud of them.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From a mom who knows...

This is an entry from our friend Amy. Thank you Amy for taking the time to let everyone know how important Camp Southern Ground will be for your family!

Hearing about Camp Southern Ground was music to my ears.
A friend told me. Look it up online, she said. It’s a camp for special-needs kids.

I couldn’t get home to my computer fast enough.

You see, I have two boys, and both are autistic. My older son is high functioning and has successfully gone to YMCA camp the past two summers. 

My younger son is non-verbal. He has a full-time aide at school. He only eats four things. He makes funny noises.

Trust me, there’s no camp for a kid like him.

Even though he is sweet and gentle. He loves being outside, is wonderful with other children, and even rides horses (hippotherapy). He would have a blast sleeping in a tent, playing in a creek, and even roasting a marshmallow (he’d never eat it, of course.) 

Basically, he’s just a great nine-year-old kid who doesn’t talk, can’t tie his shoes, and occasionally wets the bed. 

But he can’t go to camp. Even though he has no physical disabilities or mental handicaps. He requires no special equipment, just a little more supervision and patience. But it doesn’t matter. He would never be welcome at any “typical” camp. 

And, you know, camp is a huge deal. For many of us, camp was our first real stab at independence, and the source of countless memories and lifelong friendships. 

I desperately want that for my son. His life is filled with challenges, and always will be. He deserves the opportunity to experience camp. He deserves to be a kid as much as any other kid.

Maybe even more.

And now, thanks to Mr. Brown, he will get to. Just the thought of my beautiful, amazing son at camp brings tears to my eyes. 

I simply can’t wait until the day I can tell him he gets to go to camp like his brother. 

I can already see the smile on his face. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Story...

Camp Southern Ground was founded by the Grammy Award-winning musician, Zac Brown. Despite all the irons in the fire, Brown nonetheless calls his foundation and camp plans his "life's work." "Having the camp and giving back is important for me," he says. "I'm very blessed to have what I have, and I know a lot of that's on credit for what I do down the road. It's very important for me to keep that in mind. I want to leave something behind that does some good after I'm gone." 

Zac Brown is founder and lead singer of the Grammy award-winning band the Zac Brown Band. Among the many awards received, chart-topping albums, and sold out tours across the country, Brown is involved in many other areas of creativity and leadership. Brown launched his Southern Ground Artists, Inc. record label in 2009 and signed Atlanta-based artists Sonia Leigh, Levi Lowrey and Nic Cowan. In addition to the music, Brown has also launched a line of steak rubs and barbecue sauces under the Southern Ground label, and in collaboration with photographer Jeffrey Skillings and writer/bandmate Coy Bowles, released his first cookbook 'Southern Ground' in 2010. As Brown notes, these projects have their roots in Zac's Place, a lakeside restaurant he used to co-own and run. "For me it's about creating something that's really excellent," he says. "People are going to be blown away by how good the products are." 

Zac attributes his success to his decision not to be easily categorized or to worry that his music was unclassifiable. "People that wanted to sign me to a label, they'd always want to know what genre my music was, and the fact that it didn't fit into any genre was always a big stumbling block for them. But I've held out, and realized that my music doesn't need a category. It comes from a real place, and that's what people identify with. Any artist that leaves his mark - whether it's painting or music, or whatever -- can't be afraid of not following in the footsteps of everyone else, you've got to break out and do your own thing. I think the average listener is prepared for a lot more diversity than the music industry is willing to acknowledge." 

In addition to Camp Southern Ground, Zac is passionate about food and family, not necessarily in that order. He cooks frequently when home with his family (he calls it "my therapy") and previously owned a restaurant with his Dad aptly called "Zac's Place," which served up southern cuisine culled from his family's personal recipes. He also cans his own version of candied sweet potatoes, bottles a one of a kind pork sauce and grows and makes fig preserves. He also breeds his "own" classification of dog, the Weimerhound (a Weimaraner and Bloodhound mix). 

Zac currently lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with his wife Shelly and their four daughters Justice, Lucy, Georgia and Joni.