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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Identical Triplets Overcome Scars

Burned Triplets Help Others Erase Pain of the Past

Berns Triplets

Identical Triplets Overcome Scars

The girls say that they used long hair and makeup to conceal the scars that cover their arms, hands, faces, backs and chests. From left to right: Chandra, Jordan, Trae.
Desperately hoping to erase the physical scars of the fire, the triplets embarked on a new laser treatment plan with Dr. Jill Waibel of Palm Beach Esthetic Dermatology & Laser Center in February 2009.

Life Comes Full Circle as Sisters Volunteer at Camp for Burn Survivors and Start Foundation.

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 areburn 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.

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.
Watch “20/20” Friday at 10 p.m. ET to see the Berns triplets now.
Berns Triplets

Identical Triplets Overcome Scars

On Sept. 21, 1988, when the triplets were only 17 months old, their house suddenly and inexplicably became engulfed in flames. Their father, Scott, rescued them through their bedroom window. Their mother Patti was found lying unconscious in a back room of the home, in critical condition from smoke inhalation. Patti died three days later at age 27.
After the fire, the triplets’ three highchairs — covered in rubble — can be seen through the blinds of their fire-ravaged home.

(Courtesy of the Fort Worth Star – Telegram Collection, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library)


  1. Anonymous12:42 PM

    It's hard, if not impossible, to know God's plan for us....but, clearly he has BIG plans for the beautiful children of His!!! You are a direct reflection of his tenderness and shows in your sweet faces. I know that your story and your determination to overcome will/has impacted so many lives, mine included. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I admire your fierce father and grandparents for an outstanding job of raising you to be awesome fighters and overcomers....I would love to know you all personally...XOXOXO!!!!!

    1. Anonymous1:35 PM

      If this is God plan, that means whoever started the fire did not have free will, and that means you don't either.


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