Family Retreat Brings Joy to Special Needs Families

By |Published On: September 13, 2022|Categories: Family Retreats|
A family portrait of the Shawna, Cody seated in his wheelchair and her four other children smiling at the camera, a sign that says, "Welcome to Twin Rocks Camp" is behind them.

Shawna is a single parent with four children. Her sixteen-year-old son, Cody, has a progressive and fatal mitochondrial disease. He has already outlived his prognosis, but he gets weaker each year.

“Most of his days, Cody stares at the four walls that surround his bed. He watches the world from his window.”


Cody’s condition weighs on his whole family. They often find themselves stuck at home fighting isolation and discouragement. 

“Cody is tall, heavy, and dependent for all of his care. He has dozens of seizures a day. He wears a diaper. It’s so hard to take him on the road anywhere. When he has seizures, he draws crowds at the sight of his jerking body and the sound of his screams.”


For Cody’s family, Joni and Friends Family Retreat opens a whole world of joyful possibilities.

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

John 15:10–11
Shawna standing her son, Cody, up our of his wheelchair and embracing him.

At Family Retreat the love of Christ brings joy to Cody’s whole family. They get to be whole—together, at peace, and accepted. His siblings have a blast and his mom gets rejuvenated. As for Cody… after Family Retreat Shawna said, “Cody lived life big.”

Only at Family Retreat can Cody pet alpacas, play carnival games, and square dance.

Cody seated in his wheelchair looking off into the distance as his Family Retreat buddy leans down next to him and smiles at the camera.

“For five heaven-sent days, he touched, felt, sang, hugged, and danced. His life was so much more than four walls. Our family will always treasure these memories of being with Cody on a true family vacation.”


Families living with disability like Cody’s often struggle to find the respite, connection, and Christ-centered community they need to thrive. That’s why Jesus gave a commission to believers in Luke 14:

“Go out quickly in the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame…Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”

Luke 14:21, 23 (NIV)

At Joni and Friends, we take Jesus’s Luke 14 directive to heart. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we want to reach more families living with disabilities, like Cody’s, and give them respite, practical help, and Christ’s love.

You can make more disability ministry possible, here at home and around the world… until God’s house is full!

A woman with sunglasses and a Joni and Friends t-shirt on singing as a man in front of him plays guitar.

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Your gift today will bring practical help and Gospel hope to people living with disability!

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