Burned Triplets Help Others Erase Pain of the Past

Sisters start a foundation to help other burn survivors and volunteer at camp.

ByABC News
July 16, 2009, 10:58 AM

July 17, 2009 — -- This summer, many children will go to summer camp, gather around a campfire, eat s'mores and share stories.

This is no different for the children at Camp I-Thonka-Chi in Meridian, Texas -- with one exception -- all of the campers are burn survivors. The campfires that surround them remind them of their painful pasts and reinforce the reason they are all at camp.

Camp I-Thonka-Chi translates in Choctaw to "a place that makes one strong or fearless, not afraid to face life," and it's an apt description: Every year during the first week of June, the camp provides sanctuary for young burn survivors, ages 6 to 18. It's a place where no one stares at their scars or passes judgment, so campers can focus on enjoying outdoor activities, like swimming, rowing boats and horseback riding -- just like the other kids do.

CLICK HERE to see photos of the triplets through the years.

This summer, the 22-year-old Berns triplets -- Jordan, Chandra and Trae -- worked as counselors at this very special camp. Far from an ordinary summer job, it was an opportunity that brought their lives full circle.

When they were only 17 months old, the triplets were horribly burned after their home was set ablaze. Their father, Scott, rescued them through their bedroom window, but their mother, Patti, was not so lucky. She was found unconscious and died three days later as a result of smoke inhalation.

Scott Berns was charged with arson but was acquitted of the charges after a protracted, two-year investigation.

Miraculously, the girls survived despite third-degree burns on a third of their bodies, but it was a constant fight. They spent their early years undergoing an arduous recovery process that was long and agonizing, physically and mentally. Over the years, they endured multiple surgeries, skin grafts and physical therapy.