As the dust settles on last week’s multiple-surprise appearance on Good Morning America, Coronado locals Stephen and Elizabeth Wampler are looking ahead with renewed energy and inspiration to serve children with physical disabilities through their non-profit organization.
A few months ago, the Wamplers’ son Joe, a sophomore at Louisiana State University, found the perfect gift for his parents and their foundation. “He got us social media for Christmas,” laughed Elizabeth Wampler. Joe Wampler and his sister Charlotte appeared on GMA from a different location than their parents to present the Christmas surprises.
For starters, Joe Wampler started a TikTok account. Then his video won $10,000 in a ‘Chipotle Royalty’ contest, where he was so inspirational that the company pledged an additional $25,000 plus royalties from a nationwide ‘round-up change’ program. The ‘roundup’ program runs through January 1, 2021 and will add significantly to the total amount of money the foundation will receive.
The Wamplers recognize the importance of social media in getting corporate and other support for their foundation. “Breaking into social media is tough. We have been trying for a long time, and then bam! Joe did it,” said Elizabeth Wampler. “And, Chipotle’s generosity has been amazing. In fact, we plan to remodel the kitchen at camp [‘Camp Wamp at Deer Lake’ is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains] to be completely accessible so that our campers can participate in the cooking. We will call it the ‘Chipotle Kitchen’,” she announced.
While the primary focus of the foundation is to bring outdoor wilderness experiences to disabled children, they plan to use their new TikTok account and financial windfall to expand their reach. “We have a lot of things in the works,” said Elizabeth Wampler.
In addition to hiring someone to manage social media to continue the momentum, the foundation is considering a YouTube channel. They also have a children’s book series project coming in 2021. “Something that has always been very important to me is teaching people how to be comfortable interacting with those with disabilities,” said Elizabeth Wampler, who admits to being very uncomfortable around Stephen when they first met. “I didn’t know what to say or where to look. I was a mess.” Elizabeth believes that if those important lessons are taught early it can make a big difference.
Joe has been motivated to get more involved in the family business and is planning a summer trip across the country bringing disability awareness and surprises to individuals with special needs. “Much more to come on that project!” said Elizabeth Wampler.
Thanks to their son’s creative gift-giving the Wamplers are more ready than ever to continue to grow in their mission of changing the lives of children with disabilities; and their friends and families too. “It’s going to be an exciting year!” said Elizabeth Wampler.
To find out more about the foundation visit stephenjwamplerfoundation.org.