The golden boy

Craig youth E.J. Camp lights up Western Area Summer Games with medals, Olympic torch

Move over Spider-Man. Watch out Star Wars. Back up, all you green Army men.

You've now got some company, and competition, when it comes to vying for Craig youth E.J. Camp's attention.

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Where the eye candy for the 11-year-old Camp once was the bedroom posters of the web crawler, the space trotting figures from a galaxy far, far away and the disciplined personnel from the U.S. Army, it's now something far more catching.

The new objects of his affection?

Three shiny gold medals from his athletic achievements in Saturday's Special Olympics Western Area Summer Games at Moffat County High School. Adding to what Camp said was one of his best days ever also was his honorary torch-lighting duties.

The 11-year-old, who suffers from vacterl syndrome and has had 38 major surgeries, including two open-heart procedures, ran the last leg of Saturday's torch run. His portion of the run began outside of the MCHS football field, included a lap around the high school track and concluded with his lighting the Olympic cauldron.

And he had an ear-to-ear grin while doing it.

"I was really excited," said Camp, a fourth-grader who is home schooled. "It was really fun and cool."

His parents, Earl and April Camp, watched E.J. with pride. Earl said the torch run and later, the athletic competition, gave his energetic son an idea of what he could achieve.

"It was great," said Earl, a lifelong Craig resident. "He has a hard time with not being, as he calls it, 'normal,' so it really gave him a sense of accomplishment. He was pretty happy."

E.J. has had vacterl syndrome -- abnormalities to the vertebrae, cardiovascular tree, trachea, esophagus, renal system and limb buds seen in embryos and fetuses -- since birth. However, it does little to slow him down in life, or during Saturday's games.

"Oh," Earl said, "he's up for anything ... riding bikes, skateboarding, snowboarding, cup stacking ... anything. He's very outgoing."

On Saturday, E.J. earned gold medals in the 100-meter dash, softball throw and standing long jump. Not a bad performance, especially considering this year marks E.J. first full year of competition.

Saturday's medals were quickly given a plush spot in E.J.'s room, he said, next to his posters.

He said the medals will remain there for a while, capturing his attention more than Spidey, the Big Green Machine or the galactic adventurers ever could.

"They are," E.J. said, referring to his new medals, "my favorite."

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