In 1990, Judy Winter endured the traumatic birth of her son, Eric, and his challenging cerebral palsy diagnosis. As Eric grew, Judy worked tirelessly to afford him opportunities to reach his full potential – including enrolling him in music therapy classes at Michigan State University’s Community Music School, where he thrived before tragically passing away at age 12. Devastated by the loss, Judy, her husband, Dick, and camp director, Cindy Edgerton co-founded the Eric ‘RicStar’ Winter Music Therapy Camp, a one-of-a-kind day camp for individuals with special needs that provides opportunities for immersion in musical expression. Created to honor Eric’s remarkable life and legacy, RicStar’s Camp utilizes music therapy and one-on-one support to nurture and celebrate each individual’s abilities, while also modeling examples of positive inclusion. The camp’s music therapy sessions help individuals with special needs make important gains in physical, emotional and social areas, in turn strengthening their independence and forming meaningful friendships. Since 2003, RicStar’s Camp has welcomed more than 1,500 campers, provided over $80,000 in financial aid, and hosted approximately 1,000 volunteers. Through Judy’s inspiration and guidance, the camp consistently ensures a great experience for campers and their families, all while serving as a reminder of music’s lasting power to change lives.
Being a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth means I’ve kept a sacred promise to my son to honor his remarkable life by providing music therapy for people of all ages with special needs at an inclusive camp setting focused on celebrating abilities. Eric’s music lives on beautifully.