I know it has been some time since my last posting, but for the first time in 35 years, I had the opportunity to spend seven days with my wife, Wendy, doing something that had nothing to do with work…no cell phones, no computers, as we recently took a seven-day cruise on board the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis.
This adventure started a few years ago when I was honored to attend the wedding of Mike and Trish Bewley. Mike was of one of Camp Good Days’ Board Members and someone who had attended St. John Fisher College and played football for me for four years, and he and Trish were married on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale. While we were there for the wedding, the weather was so beautiful and each morning Wendy would go out and jog along the beach and I would get some coffee and the morning papers. On one of those mornings, we watched in complete awe as the largest cruise ship we had ever seen came into port. When we got back to our hotel room, Good Morning America, was broadcasting live on board the ship as it entered its port of call and was getting ready for its maiden voyage. The next morning, there was a feature article in USA Today about the new Oasis ship, which was the largest cruise ship in the world.
About a year ago, I was out at WYSL 1040AM / 92.1FM taping the monthly Camp Good Days’ Radio Show, with my co-host and NEWS10NBC Anchor, Rich Funke. Rich had just returned from a cruise vacation and was telling me that they were already planning another one. Rich asked if I had ever been on a cruise and I told him I had not and that I really had no desire to go on one. He told me that he and his wife, along with several other couples were planning a cruise on the Oasis for January 2012. When I told him the story about being in Ft. Lauderdale when the Oasis originally came into port, he told me that there might still be room if I wanted to book the trip and join them. I thought what a great gift for Wendy’s birthday and our anniversary so I took Rich up on his offer and booked the cruise.
I can tell you that this was truly one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done. My favorite part was that at the end of each day, when we returned to our room, I would sit out on our balcony, in the pitch black, just looking at the stars and the moon and listening to the waves on the ocean. It made me realize the power of Mother Nature and the power of God and gave me a much needed opportunity to just relax and think. I was reminded once again that it is not how long we are blessed to be on this earth that is most important, but it is how we live our lives while we are here and the memories we leave behind.
After being back in the office this past Monday and going home in the evening, I can honestly say it felt like I had never left, as we have so much going on at Camp Good Days and there is much work to be done as we strive each day to fulfill our mission and provide the most meaningful experience for all those we serve.
One of the neatest things that Camp Good Days has the opportunity to be a part of each year is the Annual Teddi Dance for Love, a 24-hour dance marathon, at St. John Fisher College. This February 17 & 18, 2012 will be the 30th Annual Teddi Dance for Love. Think about that – this is the 33rd year of Camp Good Days and the 30th Annual Teddi Dance for Love; the 30th year that the students, administration, faculty, staff, and alumni at St. John Fisher College have helped Camp Good Days to be able to be there for every child and family that needs us.
No matter how cold it is outside on that Friday and Saturday, and even though the weather has been pretty good, I can guarantee that weekend will be cold, there is always an overwhelming amount of love and warmth inside. It is amazing that these students, on their own, began planning this event the day following last year’s, and that they are committed to weekly meetings, planning, and all of the logistical details of making this a great success.
Even though we will have some of the campers from Camp Good Days at the event on Saturday, February 18th for a few hours, to spend some time with the students, so many of the campers never have the opportunity to meet and thank these special students, so my job is to be there at the end of the event and thank them for all they have done to help support Camp Good Days and to help keep alive the memory of a very special little girl, my daughter, Teddi.
I am so thrilled that Dr. Lou Buttino, who not only was an integral part of the formation of the Teddi Dance for Love 30 years ago when he was a professor at St. John Fisher College, but wrote the book, For The Love of Teddi: The Story Behind Camp Good Days and Special Times, is coming back to Rochester, from his current home in North Carolina where he is now a professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, to help commemorate this amazing anniversary. I am also excited that Lou Gramm, rock legend of Foreigner fame, who was part of the Teddi Dance for Love in the early years, will be joining us this year as our Honorary Chairman.
When Lou Buttino wrote For the Love of Teddi, he stated that, “immortality is to be loved by anonymous people.” It always amazes me how much of Teddi’s spirit is at St. John Fisher College, especially during the 24 hours of the Teddi Dance for Love and as her father, it is beyond words to describe the feeling of having all those students calling her name – students who were not even born when Teddi died. As Teddi’s Dad, I can never thank these students enough for the gift they give to me.
As a coach, you always hope that at the end of each contest, on the field or on the court, that your players gave it everything and left nothing behind. If they have, they will have that really good feeling of knowing that they gave it their all, despite their exhaustion. That is how much each and every one of these students give and how they feel at the end of the Teddi Dance for Love.
If you want to truly see the good in the world, have your faith restored in young people, and if you really want to see the human spirit soar, come to the Student Life Center on the campus of St. John Fisher College on Saturday, February 18, 2012 for the final hour of the Teddi Dance for Love, from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM. You will experience this special atmosphere firsthand, because when the Teddi Dance for Love ends, after those 24 hours, you will see students who are exhausted, with sore feet and aching backs, but who have such great satisfaction of knowing that they gave it their all to help some very special children and families in our community.
Camp Good Days has been so blessed to have so many young people throughout the year support our children and families. In addition to the Teddi Dance for Love at St. John Fisher College, the high school students at Fayetteville-Manlius High School host an Annual Dance Marathon, which will take place this year on Saturday, March 3, 2012. Not only have these students done an extraordinary job raising money to support the children and families we serve – reaching the one million dollar mark last year – but so many of them take time out of their summers to volunteer during our residential camping programs. And just last year, students at Ithaca College, for the first time, held the Dance for Courage to benefit Camp Good Days. The Second Annual Dance for Courage will take place this year on Saturday, April 14, 2012.
All of these young people have helped in tremendous ways so that we can continue to be there for all those children and families who need our programs and services. As I am sure many of you who are reading this know, all of our programs and services are provided free of charge for the participants, so as not to place any additional financial burden on those families served. We could not continue to do this without the generous support from so many, like all of these students.
It is often said that the greatest gifts we as human beings can give to one another are our time and our love and all those involved with the dance events at St. John Fisher College, Ithaca College, and Fayetteville-Manlius High School give so much of both and for that we are forever grateful!
I hope that you will share these blog postings with your family, friends and colleagues and we are about to start something new…if you have questions about anything that Camp Good Days is doing – our programs, our services, our special events, our volunteer opportunities, our donation options, or CANCER MISSION 2020 - which is also so important and let me ask you again to please, if you have not yet done so, check out www.cancermission2020.com, learn the facts about where we stand in the fight against cancer and if you feel the way we do, sign the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition and share the site with your network of contacts – feel free to leave your comment or question via the comments section of the blog. I will be taking questions and selecting a few to answer each time I blog.
Finally, keep in mind the many ways you can stay in touch with Camp Good Days and stay up-to-date with all we have going on:
Check out our website, www.campgooddays.org
Become our fan on Facebook, www.facebook.com/CampGoodDays79
Follow us on Twitter, @CampGoodDays
Tune in to the monthly Radio Show, “Good Days & Special Times” the first Thursday of every month, at 6:30 PM on WYSL 92.1 FM AND 1040 AM.