As we enter the month of November, there is so much happening, that I thought I would take a moment to share with you some updates through my blog since I don’t have a Facebook.
As of this past October
1st, Camp Good Days began its 39th year of providing
programs and services to children and families touched by cancer and sickle
cell anemia. One thing that I am very
proud of is that volunteers are still the backbone of Camp Good Days, just like
they were in the beginning. Without all
of these amazing people, there would be no Camp Good Days. I am very blessed to have volunteers like
Mike Falvo, Kathy Murphy, and Michelle Roach who have been here since Camp Good
Days’ inception. There were two promises
I made when I started Camp Good Days: one was that I didn’t want Camp Good Days
to be a bureaucracy, I wanted it to be a non-profit that made a real difference
in people’s lives. The second was that I
wanted no family struggling with the question of “why did my loved one get
diagnosed with cancer?” to then have to go through the financial anxiety of
figuring out whether they could afford to send their child to camp while trying
to make the rent or car payment on time.
Even if these families have good health insurance and both parents,
which is not always the case, usually it is the mom who will put her career on
hold to stay at home with the child or loved one, and so the family income will
drop but the mortgage or rent payment will stay the same. The families will be forced to dip into their
savings, and then once that is exhausted, the only alternative is
bankruptcy. I didn’t want that to be the
case for our families, and so I made the promise that all of our programs and
services would be provided free of charge to the participants. I have only been able to keep this promise
because of so many generous people in our community who believe in Camp Good
Days’ mission and because of the success of our special fundraising events, the
largest of which is our Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in
combination with our Camp Good Days Wine Auction Dinner.
October was when we
had our first programs of our 39th year with our Annual Men’s
Prostate Retreat and our Women’s Wellness Weekend. Our Men’s Prostate Retreat is a wonderful
program that continues to grow every year.
Once again this year, we had some of the very best physicians in the
field of prostate cancer attend including Dr. Louis Eichel, the Chief of
Urology at Rochester General Hospital, Dr. Jean Joseph, the Director
of the Center for Robotic Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical
Center, and Dr. Willie Underwood III, a
Urologist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Our Women’s Wellness Weekend also went great, and was very well attended
with 50 women who participated. The good
Lord gave us beautiful weather, and I am always amazed to see the
transformation of the women from when they arrive Friday evening to when they
leave on Sunday morning.
Next Wednesday, November
8, we are going to take our annual Fun Fest Trip to Orlando and Central Florida,
where we take over 20 children with cancer or sickle cell anemia along with
over 20 volunteers and staff who help to make each child’s experience one they
will never forget. It is an amazing
thing to see a child take their first airplane ride, see the dolphins swim for
the first time, or see Animal Kingdom and Universal Studios for the first
time. This trip is one of the highlights
of the year for us at Camp Good Days and for the children who are able to go,
and we are very excited for them to have this great experience.
We also have one of
our most festive events coming up soon; the Annual Joe Benet Memorial Kazoo
Fest, which will begin Black Friday and go until right before Christmas. We are once again very thankful to have the
support of JC Penney’s who allow us to set up tables in front of their mall
locations at Greece Ridge, Eastview, and Marketplace malls here in Rochester. So if you have the time while doing your
holiday shopping, please stop by and say hello, and help support Camp Good Days
by making a donation, or by buying a kazoo or candy cane pen.
There has been a
big change in my personal life; after 27 years as an Assistant Football Coach at
St. John Fisher College, Saturday, October 28 was my last home game with the
team. Even though the weather had turned
to the typical Upstate New York fall weather of overcast, rainy, and cold, the
team, despite their struggles this year, played to the best of their ability
and wound up defeating Cortland State. When
I went home after the game, I couldn’t help but think back over the past 27
years about all of the young people who have played for me, and how each of
them has touched my heart in a different way and left their impression on
me. I had a coach when I was younger
who, when asked what kind of team he wanted, would say, “Ask me in 10 years and
let me see what kind of young men these players become, and what kind of
husbands and fathers they become.” This
idea of coaching is what I tried to base my coaching off of as well, and so I
hope that in some small way, I have been able to touch their lives and help
make them productive members of our society and good husbands and fathers.
It is crazy to
think that I have spent over a quarter of a century coaching at St. John Fisher,
since it seems like yesterday that I started.
I think back to starting the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle and
being able to sponsor a number of football camps where I was able to bring in
some great friends and professional players like Harvey Martin, Theo Bell, Tony
Hill, Drew Pearson, Todd Lexer, and Steve Christie to name a few. Most of all, I remember being so excited to
take the idea of the Courage Bowl and make it a reality; where children of Camp
Good Days who are battling cancer can serve as honorary coaches or
cheerleaders. It is crazy to think that
this year was our thirteenth Courage Bowl.
It has been a good ride at Fisher, and I am happy that, over the years, I
have been able to help make the Fisher football team one of the best Division 3
programs in the country. I will always
remember our 2006 season where we finished 4th in the country. I have had the opportunity to coach with some
great teachers and coaches over the years including Jim Schichetti, Rodger
Bunce, Bud Sims, Mike Fox, Andy Hendall, Blaise Faggiano, and many great young
coaches including Rob Kramer, Chris Keyes, and most of all, being able to build
a strong relationship with Coach Paul Vosburgh, who when he first came aboard,
asked what my plan was, and I had said that I was going to stick around to see
us beat The College at Brockport and the University of Rochester, and I am
pleased to say that we have been able to do that. Ending my time with the Fisher football team
is bittersweet, and I am so honored to have been able to spend my time with a
great team, and some very amazing people.
I hope that you all
enjoyed my update, and I will end my blog by saying that I wish you and your
family a very happy and blessed beginning to your upcoming holiday season.