Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Our Special Pup: Vic


    As I write the last blog for 2022, I write with a heart that is broken. This year will go down as one of the most challenging years for Camp Good Days and for me personally. Still, at the end of 2022, we are continuing to feel the full effect of the pandemic. This resulted in difficulty in
hiring not only summer staff but also full-time staff in our offices. For the first time ever, we have also had trouble securing needed volunteers for our many summer camping programs. Even as we resume our fundraising efforts, we see difficulties from the pandemic. We have seen a decline in attendees to our fundraisers, directly affecting our bottom line. We work hard at Camp Good Days to fundraise what we need to run all of our programs so that I am able to keep my promise to our campers’ parents that they will never have to struggle between paying bills or paying for their child to attend summer camp.

The last couple of months have been extraordinarily hard on not only me but our Camp Good Days family as we have lost friends, campers, and beloved volunteers. Between Christmas and New Year’s, we had to say goodbye to our 6½-year-old English Bulldog, Invictus. Invictus, or “Vic” as we called him, joined our family when he was just a puppy after we returned from a trip to Florida.

We traveled to Florida after we were forced to put down our colored bull terrier, Rebel, from cancer. Florida gave us the ability to get away from what was happening. We flew down to Florida with no return flight home, ensuring that we allowed ourselves time to heal and recharge. This was the first trip I had taken in a very long time where there was nothing I had to do, no meetings or phone calls. It was truly an abrupt but needed change of pace. Needless to say, after one week or so of no plans, I was bored out of my mind. One highlight of the trip that we greatly enjoyed was attending a Gold Medal Wheelchair Basketball game, hosted at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. This game was a part of the Invictus Games started the year before by Prince Harry for wounded veterans to participate in. I was amazed at how competitive and skilled the veterans were; Wendy was amazed by seeing Prince Harry. But I was grateful for this trip as it gave me some needed answers. On our trip home to Rochester, I told Wendy how happy I was that we went on this trip because it became evident that I wasn’t ready to retire, nor could I live in Florida during the summer, but most importantly that we needed to get a new dog. When summer camp began in June of that year, I did not want to have to tell the children of Rebel’s passing of cancer. I thought that the presence of a new puppy would help to avoid that conversation. Our first choice was a bull terrier, but it proved very hard to find one. We then heard of a breeder nearby with Old English Bulldog puppies. We called her to express our interest and she told us to come by and that we would have the pick of the litter. When I saw Vic, I immediately knew that he was the dog for our family. We brought him to camp that next summer and the campers were so happy to have a puppy around. Vic was a hit, everyone from volunteers to staff to campers couldn’t get enough of him and he enjoyed every second.

Our dogs have always been a special part of camp. For a child, following their diagnosis can be quite a troubling time and a time when their self-confidence might falter. They face invasive scars, the loss of hair, rapid increase or decrease in weight, or even the need for a prosthesis. During this time, it may be difficult for them to like themselves in the mirror or truly feel like themselves around others. Dogs are able to help them through this process. They pass no judgment and see them the same way they wish to be seen. It gives them a very much-needed companion at camp. One of my favorite quotes is from Bobby Bowden, a former football coach at Florida State University, he said “Money can buy a dog but only love can make it wag its tail”. That summer I never saw Vic when his little nub tail wasn’t wagging. He helped those children as much as they helped him.

Unfortunately, when we were counting down the days to 2023 to put this past year in the rearview mirror in hopes that the next would be better, Vic became very sick. We were soon told that he was in liver failure and sadly passed a few days before the New Year. I can’t help but think that the Lord put Vic in our lives for a reason. And I am sure that reason was to help every child he met at camp and love them as only he could. He was a good dog that everyone fell in love with. He has left a void in everyone that loved him, which was many. I truly believe that the good Lord does not give us more than we can handle. This new year brings a promise of a year with less covid and a big step towards normalcy at camp with our many programs and events.

I don’t drink but if I did, I would say to raise a glass to a new year filled with many good days and special times. I also want to wish everyone that has helped and supported Camp Good Days a new year filled with peace, good health, and much much love.


God Bless,


Thursday, December 22, 2022

Remembering Tilahun Belete Gushish


He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. — Revelations 21:3-4 (verse from T’s Facebook)

This year has brought with it both joy and pain. I reflect on what this year has meant to me and who I will be forced to leave behind in the New Year. These last couple of weeks have been especially hard for me and the Camp Good Days family. We have lost many special people that were the backbone of this organization and helped me build it into what it is now; some of those have left us far too soon.

Tilahun “T” Gushish was a beloved member of the Camp Good Days family and a very special person to me. I first met T several years ago when a friend of mine, Dr. David Korones, asked me about our international campers’ program. He asked me if we would accept children from Ethiopia that were struggling with cancer. Dr. Korones had a patient that he was treating at Golisano children’s hospital that he helped bring over from Ethiopia. We had hosted children from all over the world but never had the opportunity presented itself to host a child from Ethiopia. I was very excited to be able to expand the program to more children. We knew we were blessed when T arrived that summer to attend Camp Good Days International Camp. Tilahun’s love of life and hope were contagious. He could truly light up any room that he entered. I marveled at the fact that such a young boy that had already survived poverty, homelessness, and now struggling with cancer was so strong and joyful.

 I will never forget when I brought the Rhinos head coach down to camp to see the children during T’s first summer at camp. Bob Lilley was the coach at the time, and he was mesmerized by what T could do. He said that T could do with one leg which some of his players couldn’t do with two! He made quite an impression on the coach that day as he did with everyone he met. He was just such an impressive young man you couldn’t help but feel that way.

Due to COVID, we lost touch for a couple of years, but in August of this year, we were able to reconnect. I drove down to camp with Wendy and as I was walking to my cabin along Teddi Lane, I saw T running toward me. I tell him how great it is to see him, and he returns the sentiment. He goes on to tell me that I might not know it, but that Camp Good Days saved his life and how happy he was that he came to camp. I was astounded by his words. I said to Wendy later in our cabin, is there a better job in the world than what I am blessed to have? I reveled in how amazing it was that I have this opportunity to change a child’s life like T’s. How can you put a value on that?

I was so grateful that throughout this past summer we were able to renew our relationship and that I was able to present Tilahun as 2022’s Courage Award recipient. This award is given at our annual Courage Bowl to campers who are an example of courage, strength, and determination to all the children and families served by Camp Good Days & Special Times. T was all of these and more, he was a true inspiration to me and all of the Camp Good Days team.

It was extremely hard for me when I heard that Tilahun lost his battle with cancer. What gives me some peace is that I know that T is in heaven watching over us all. And because of this, he will be with us always. In times of distress, we will feel him giving us strength and in times of sorrow, he will give us joy. We will never leave T behind as he is with us always.

T’s services were this past Wednesday and Thursday. They were beautiful and exactly what I believe T would have wanted, everyone he loved together sharing cherished memories that they had with T. I was also so grateful to be able to meet T’s doctor from Ethiopia that played a pivotal role in getting T over here for treatment. Without his effort, we would not have been as lucky as we were to meet T.

In his 20 years of life Tilahun was able to make an incredible impact on those who knew him. I know I speak for many when I say that T will be missed greatly. How he touched us and the impact that he had on every person he met will be with us forever. Camp Good Day will not be the same without having T there, but I know that he will be watching over us each and every summer.

God Bless,



Friday, December 9, 2022

In Memory of an Angel: Dave Stebbins


  These are unprecedented times we are living through. COVID has had a tremendous impact on our society, and we will feel it for years to come. Here at Camp Good Days, we are just starting to come back to some sense of normalcy- or the closest thing we can get to it. We are finishing up our summer schedule for 2023 and hope that it will be published by January.

    With this year coming to a close I have been reflecting on the past year and the blessings that I have been gifted; something that I think we should all do more. All too often we let our hardships in life outshine our blessings. When in life more often than not our blessings exceed any hardships, we face. When we look at it we all have so much to be thankful for. I have been taking some time to reflect on all the wonderful people the good Lord has put into my life to build and keep Teddi’s dream alive. I have met such remarkable people every step of the way that were able to step up, share their skills, and fill every need within Camp Good Days.

    Unfortunately, I have also had to deal with the loss of people who have come into my life thanks to Camp Good Days. This past weekend one of these beautiful souls has passed. He was an angel to Camp Good Days and exemplified what it means to be a part of this organization.

    Dave Stebbins was a Camp Good Days volunteer ranger for a number of years. Dave’s wife, Bobbi, works for Waterloo Container, a major sponsor of our Wine Auction Dinner. Through her involvement, I had the opportunity to meet Dave. Dave was a state trooper and offered his skills to volunteer down at our recreational facility on Keuka Lake as our Camp Ranger. Camp Good Days Rangers are current or former law enforcement officers stationed at camp that volunteers their time to ensure the safety of all our campers, staff, and volunteers. Dave served as our camp ranger for many years and became a crucial part of the Camp Good Days family.

    Sadly, last year I learned that Dave was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As he went through treatment and surgery, you would never know how sick he actually was. His spirits were always high, and he was always looking for what he could do for others. Dave was not only a true law enforcement professional, but a distinguished officer and committed Camp Good Days volunteer. He was a dedicated father to his two sons, Ryan & Thomas, and a loving husband to his wife Bobbi. Dave left behind a truly special family.

    I will forever cherish our great memories together down at camp with the children, along with our many conversations. I will miss Dave dearly; he was such a special friend. He will forever be a part of Camp Good Days and part of our memories.

    At camp, we have a ranger station. I am hoping upon camp’s opening this summer that we are able to place a plaque on the ranger’s station dedicating it to the brave women and men, like Dave Stebbins, who have served with us at Camp Good Days. Thank you all for your incredible service to our organization. I know that Dave is in heaven forever looking over all of our campers.


God Bless,


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:

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!


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!