Friday, October 29, 2021

Honoring Our Caregivers in the Month of November


November is a month dedicated to gratitude, family, and giving thanks. Obviously, I have plenty to be thankful for this year, including all of you. The Camp Good Days community has been so kind and thoughtful during this difficult time of recovery and healing. I, for one, am still getting used to not running around from meeting to meeting every day. However, I’m enjoying spending more time reflecting on this past year, my life, and all that Camp Good Days has done for so many families, including my own.  

 

This month is Honoring Caregivers month. We want to take these next 30 days to celebrate and recognize the individuals and families that have been such tremendous support systems for patients of all kinds. No matter the type or stage of cancer, the devastation factor is the same on families. I have had personal experience in hearing this kind of earth-shattering news, with my own daughter, Teddi. I just remember the feeling of having no control. There was nothing I could really do to make her better, except be there for her. Becoming Teddi’s caregiver made me reevaluate my entire life; why was I here? What am I meant to do? What will I be remembered for? Hence, Camp Good Days was born.

 

My experience as a caregiver has given me the opportunity to relate to families all over the world. We are able to connect on an entirely new level, as not everyone has the ability to sit by the bedside of a loved one and watch them go through such pain during treatment. You are putting someone else’s life before your own, which not only is overwhelming at times, but is extremely humbling as well. Teddi taught me to live boldly, as life is fleeting. 

 

Since Camp Good Days started in 1979, I was always under the impression that I would continue to support and be there for anyone who needed me, until I needed a caregiver of my own. For the last 6 months or so, my wife has been keeping a close eye on me, making sure my recovery process is continuing to go in the right direction. I finally saw the impact that caregivers have–if Wendy hadn’t been stubborn enough in making sure I got to the hospital or got the very best care, I definitely wouldn’t be here. As many ups and downs as there are in this journey, it’s all worth it because I know she has my back. 

 

As we honor the caregivers of our own campers, I want you all to ask yourselves, “what am I here for?” Obviously, you’re not put on this earth to witness a loved one endure cancer, but you are here to make them smile, love them, and be there for them every step of the way. Some may heal and some may not, but regardless of the circumstances, Camp Good Days is a place that welcomes all, allowing you to create joyous memories that will last a lifetime. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

October Blog

 

Sometimes, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Why, you may ask? For the last 43 years, I come into my office and I’m excited to continue changing the lives of children affected by cancer and sickle cell anemia. No two days are ever the same–one day, I could be hearing updates about how one camper is in remission, while the next day, I’m sitting on the sidelines of the Courage Bowl, watching our honorary coaches and cheerleaders in awe as they experience their first collegiate football game. After this year’s game, it became quite clear to me just how lucky I am to have started something so special, so close to my heart. I think Teddi would be proud of what Camp Good Days has become.

Since Courage Bowl’s inception 16 years ago, I have, again, been so lucky as to combine my two loves: Camp Good Days, in memory of my daughter, and football, the game that absolutely feeds my soul. This one night allows for a few campers to experience a collegiate football game, as well as interactions with the players. It’s a bonding experience for everyone, especially our honorary coaches and cheerleaders. This year, however, was extremely difficult. Usually, we have a practice where the campers come to Growney Stadium, be with the team, and receive their jerseys that the players signed. For Courage Bowl XVI, that practice didn’t happen. This didn’t really impact the coaches and cheerleaders that could attend the game, but for one of our honorary coaches, Craig, he was too sick to attend.



Thankfully, our Camp Director, Caitlyn, was able to bring Craig his jersey, so it felt like he hadn’t missed the game at all. I walked into the office this past week to come across a photo that Craig’s mom sent in–Craig was beaming from ear to ear while wearing his jersey! It was amazing for me especially, because this shows how a simple football game can change a life in such a monumental way.



Craig’s mom, Kim, continues to post updates on his treatment on CaringBridge, where supporters can log on and send their best wishes to Craig and his family. The website can be found below:

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/craigy

Join me in keeping the Winter family in your thoughts and prayers, and maybe say a little prayer for me as well!

I’m glad I had the opportunity to share Craig’s wonderful story with you all, and I hope you have a fun and safe Halloween!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Much To Be Thankful For

 I am so happy to report that just recently, I have been discharged from my at-home care, and I am finally starting to get back into the swing of things. I'm still doing out-patient PT twice a week, so we're not completely out of the woods yet, but I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have reached out to Wendy and I. The notes, thoughts, prayers, check-ins...they all meant so much and have certainly played a huge role in the process of getting me to where I am today. It's been a long couple of months, but I'm making improvements and am grateful for each day that I'm here, doing what I love. 

As Summer 2021 comes to a close, I just want to reflect on all the achievements that Camp Good Days has made, especially during this difficult time. We were finally able to utilize camp this summer, Caitlyn and the staff did a fantastic job in completely transforming the format of our programs, turning them into a family-oriented camp. The property was used every week and the response was overwhelmingly positive. I'm so proud of what they have accomplished, it reflects on what this organization stands for. Our golf tournament was also a success, it was great to see people still coming out to support us, despite our current challenges with Covid-19. 

Now, as the Fall season is approaching, we are planning for our annual Tour de Teddi, along with plenty of other fun events that you all can put on your calendars. Our Junior Good Days is on September 18 from 11am-3pm, Courage Bowl is October 2, and our Fall Fest Weekend is October 30-31. I give all the credit to our hardworking staff–they have risen above all expectations and continue to amaze me with not only how much they care about Camp Good Days, but their willingness to adapt to any challenge that may come their way.

In our 43rd year, I want to make 2021-2022 the best year yet! With that being said, in order to make this year the best and most successful it can be, it all starts with our volunteers. For more information on how to get involved, contact our office at (585) 624-5555. I look forward to working with you soon. 

Lastly, I want to give all my love and thanks to Wendy. She single-handedly took care of me, our two dogs and cat, the house, all while answering many calls and emails for Camp Good Days. She stuck by me through it all–which is a true testament to how strong our marriage is. When a crisis arises, it has the tendency to bring out the worst in people. There is always the possibility of a relationship being torn apart, especially when stress and anxiety levels are high. Thankfully, this was not the case for us. She is my rock and my biggest supporter. The best decision I ever made was marrying her. 

I can't thank you all enough for being my champions and helping me push through on this difficult journey. I may not be where I want to be just yet, but I'm getting there, making strides every day.

Wishing you all Good Days and Special Times!

God Bless!

Gary





Tuesday, July 6, 2021

A Health Update From our Founder

 As many of you know, since March of this year I have spent the majority of my time and efforts dealing with an

enlarged prostate and all that goes along with that and I wanted to give you all a quick update. Dr. Louis Eichel,
Chief of the Division of Urology at Rochester General Hospital will be performing the necessary surgery this
coming Monday, June 28, 2021.


While I am nervous because this is a different type of surgery that does not remove the prostate but will
reduce the overall size to minimize the risks of further debilitating symptoms and issues, Dr. Eichel feels
confident with the surgical plan and hopes he can correct the problem that initially led to my Emergency Room
visit and subsequent hospital stay a few months ago.


Wendy thought I was having a stroke and 911 dispatched the Mobile Stroke Unit Ambulance, which is
phenomenal with advanced medical technology on-board. I did not have a stroke, but learned I was in Acute
Renal Failure and the decision to have dialysis was canceled after three days waiting to see if my kidney
function would start to improve, which it did. I am so thankful for Dr. Mark Gestring, Dr. Jean Joseph and the
entire medical staff and care team that treated me at the University of Rochester Medical Center. I had to
spend time in the in-patient rehabilitation facility and upon being able to return to the comfort of my own
home, I continue to have weekly sessions of physical therapy and occupational therapy with University of
Rochester Home Care specialists, along with multiple in-person and online appointments with my doctors.


I have been working really hard to get better and stronger and I have made significant improvement so that Dr.
Louis Eichel, and Dr. Rick Constantino, my Primary Care Physician and dear friend, feel I am ready for the next
step in recovery, which is this coming Monday’s surgery.


I, like anyone, am nervous about having major, invasive surgery, but it was never a question of if, but just when
would the surgery take place and now is the right time. It will be a lot to go through the surgery and the
recovery to follow, but I am very much looking forward to getting this behind me and moving forward with the
next chapters.


I want to thank each and everyone of you who have reached out to me, or to Wendy, via phone, text, email,
cards, visits, etc. It means more than words can express to have so many people who love and care about you!
So many of you have asked how to help...I am one who never underestimates the power of prayer, so the only
help I ask for is that you say a prayer for my family and I that all goes well on Monday with the surgery and my
recovery to follow.


I look forward to chatting with you all again soon to give you another update and focus on the coming weeks
and months ahead, not just about my personal situation, but about the many things happening and coming up
at Camp Good Days!


Wishing you all Good Days and Special Times!


God Bless!
Gary

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Looking Forward to Summer

I hope that this blog finds you well and in good health. We, at Camp Good Days, are continuing to adapt and adjust, and are looking forward to warm weather and the promise of camp.

With the governor's announcement that residential summer camps will be allowed to operate this summer starting in June, we are excited to announce that we are offering Family Camps in July and August! This means that our summer will look a little different than normal. Families will be able to come during a 3-day, 2-night stay to spend time at camp together. Each family will get their own cabin to stay in and all safety precautions will be taken. There will be a limited number of families staying on property at the same time. These programs will be organized similarly to our regular programming, meaning that families who have a child with cancer will be in the same program, families with a parent diagnosed will be in the same program, etc. This way, they will be around others facing similar challenges. A lot of research and planning has gone into making this decision and we are very excited!

We also have two great raffles going on. The Camp Good Days Car Raffle is happening again this year thanks to Vanderstyne Toyota and Toyota USA. And the Foreigner Guitar Raffle is also going on. Thanks to Lou Gramm and his wife Robyn, this guitar is signed by all past and present members of Foreigner. The drawings will both be held on April 15. Please support these great raffles by purchasing tickets or sharing the information to families and friends. You can learn more here.

Lastly, we are excited to announce that the 39th Annual Teddi Dance for Love raised over $120,000 despite the challenges with the pandemic! This is the most they have ever raised! This is the longest-running fundraiser at St. John Fisher College. I want to give special thanks to Emily and Sam, the Chair and Vice Chair of the dance, and President Rooney and Mrs. Rooney for their continued involvement and support. It is thanks to events like these that we can continue providing our programs free of charge.

While this past year has been difficult, we are hopeful for the future and are looking forward to being able to have our camper families and some of our wonderful volunteers down at camp this summer. Make sure to keep looking at our website, social media accounts, this blog, and listen to our monthly radio show with WYSL, to stay up to date on all things Camp Good Days.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Welcoming 2021

I hope that all of you have had a peaceful and pleasant start to the new year. Like many of you, all of us at Camp Good Days were counting down to the end of 2020, ready to put it behind us. 

This new year is made more special with the change in administration in Washington, D.C. This comes with the hope of better days ahead although, as we know, there are no guarantees. I personally, and our staff at Camp Good Days believe that 2021 will be a better year. The development and distribution of the vaccine is a cause for hope, and hopefully by the time summer comes around, the distribution will be enough for us to move forward to a new normal. We are busy planning for our 42nd summer and are developing multiple plans depending on what we can do. Our goal is to make this summer the best one yet! To see our summer camp update, please visit our website.

As I am sure you could have guessed, 2020 was not the best year for fundraisers. Some of ours had to be cancelled, others were postponed, and most of them did not raise the amount that they usually do. If you would like to help us going into the new year, please spread the word about our car raffle and guitar raffle. 

Once again, Vanderstyne Toyota and Toyota USA have generously donated the newest model of the Toyota Corolla SE. The tickets are 1 for $20 or 3 for $50 and all proceeds go right to Camp Good Days. The drawing will be held on April 15, 2021. 


Lou Gramm and his wife, Robyn, with the help of Doug Emblidge have donated a signed guitar from all past and present Foreigner band members to raffle off. The money raised from this raffle will go towards renovating the music hut down at camp, which will be re-named in honor of a good friend of Camp Good Days, singer/songwriter, Bat McGrath, who passed away from cancer. The tickets are 1 for $10 or 3 for $20. You can learn more about both raffles
here.


Unless things change, we have some exciting events coming up in 2021:

February 19-20: The 39th Annual St. John Fisher Teddi Dance for Love

May 24: The 38th Annual Tournament of Love

June 15-18: The 21st Annual Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition

September 11: The Tour de Teddi

November 6: The 21st Annual Wine Auction Dinner

These events help us raise the much-needed funds to provide our free programs and services, so please spread the word about these events. We always need attendees and volunteers! You can learn more about these events here.

As we move forward into this new year, there are many ways for you to stay up to date on all things Camp Good Days. You can listen to our monthly radio show which airs the first Thursday of every month at 6:30PM on WYSL 1040AM 92.1FM. You can also listen to the podcast of the show on the WYSL website. We will also post all updates on our our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). 

One of our mottos at Camp Good Days is “Adapt and Adjust,” and we appreciate you being patient and adapting and adjusting with us. No family is ever prepared to hear that their loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and we, at Camp Good Days, will make sure to be there for every family who needs us. 

While we are all missing camp, I urge you to send us some thoughts about how camp has changed your life, or why you hope we will be able to have our in-person camping programs this summer. These anecdotes will be great to hear and will provide some inspiration for us moving forward into the summer. Please send your thoughts through Facebook Messenger or by emailing info@campgooddays.org.

I wish you all a great start to 2021 and I hope to be able to see everyone this summer. 


Thursday, November 5, 2020

A Surprise from Senator Rich Funke...

I hope that this blog finds you well during this crazy year. Like you, we at Camp Good Days are working through the current struggles and are adapting and adjusting to what life is throwing at us. We are working hard so we can continue providing programs and services for families affected by cancer and sickle cell anemia. The ultimate goal is to continue to be there for every child and family who needs us.

In order to generate the financial support we need, we have had to make some changes to our fundraisers and special events. We have held our Annual Wine Auction Dinner for 20 years, but this year, we had to re-imagine the dinner as an online auction. We are going to have hundreds of wine packages along with other exciting items. The auction goes from November 12th at 10:00AM until November 19th at 8:00PM. You can view and bid on the items here.

Thanks to Vanderstyne Toyota and Toyota Motor Corporation, we once again have a car to raffle off! This year, the car will be a 2021 Toyota Corolla SE. Tickets are 1 for $20 and 3 for $50, and the drawing will be on April 15th, 2021. Every single dollar raised from this raffle goes directly to Camp Good Days!

We also have the guitar raffle still going on! Over the years, Rochester's own Lou Gramm, from Foreigner has been an avid supporter of Camp Good Days. Gramm, along with his wife, Robyn, have put together a very special raffle item! In honor of the late Bat McGrath, a well-known singer/songwriter who was also from Rochester and a friend of Camp Good Days, Lou Gramm has donated a guitar signed by past and present members of Foreigner. The proceeds from this raffle will go towards renovating the music activity hut at Camp Good Days’ recreational facility in Branchport, NY. The hut will be re-dedicated in memory of Bat McGrath. Tickets are 1 for $10 or 3 for $20. The drawing will happen at the dedication of the music hut in the spring of 2021.

Information for both the car raffle and the guitar raffle are on our website!

For me, personally, I had a nice surprise when I received a call from Senator Rich Funke, asking if he could come into the office and meet with me. I have known Rich for many years, starting back when he began his career working at a local radio station and later became an anchor with News10NBC. We have a special bond since we both have lost a child to cancer. He presented me with an award, the highest award the New York State Senate can present to a citizen, the Liberty Award.

“The New York State Senate Liberty Award is the state’s highest honor. It is presented to citizens who have merited special commendation for their actions on behalf of their fellow New Yorkers and their community.”

I was very humbled because of the significance of the award and because it is one of the last things Rich will have done before leaving the State Senate. It will be on display in our office in Mendon and once our museum is completed at camp, it will be placed there for all to see.

 



As the holiday season approaches, please keep the children and families of Camp Good Days in your thoughts and prayers. We will continue to be there for everyone diagnosed with cancer and sickle cell anemia who needs us. Cancer doesn’t stop during pandemic and neither will we!