Thursday, December 2, 2010


CANCER MISSION 2020…The End Of Cancer By The End Of The Decade


On June 22, 2009, Camp Good Days and I were pleased to host the 29th Congressional District Cancer Summit at our Recreational Facility on Keuka Lake and since that time have been working, planning, and putting the pieces in place to finally establish a coordinated, comprehensive, and cohesive effort to find the answers that have been eluding us in the fight against cancer. Today, Thursday, December 2, 2010, we officially launched Cancer Mission 2020…The End Of Cancer By The End Of The Decade!

There has never been a better time than right now, for all of us to come together, using the many tools, technology and resources available to us, to defeat this disease that is claiming the lives of some 11,000 Americans each week. It is as if one of the Twin Towers is falling every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. One out of every three American women and one out of every two American men will face a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetime and in the United States, if you are 85 years old or younger, cancer is the leading cause of death. According to a report earlier this year from the World Health Organization, not only was cancer proclaimed to be the most economically devastating disease, but it is now the number one disease killer in the world. If we don’t do something here in the United States, cancer will be the leading cause of death, regardless of age, by the year 2016. We are now in the position that it is not a matter of “if” but just a matter of “when” we ourselves or someone we love will have to battle this horrible disease. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results. It is time to do something different and actually obtain different results!

Cancer Mission 2020 brings together doctors, researchers and other medical practitioners, legislators and government officials, representatives from support and service agencies, cancer patients, and community members, to move forward with a goal of having 1.5 million voices, together as one, leading the way with a new game plan, with the ultimate mission to end cancer by the end of this decade!

The mission begins at, and includes educating ourselves and those around us about taking advantage of what we know now (screenings, diet and lifestyle changes, etc.); increasing the knowledge of and patient participation in clinical trials, especially in the cases of adults with cancer, where the current participation is only 3-5%; having patients be able to participate in clinical trials without the fear or possibility of having their health insurance canceled as a result; publicly sharing the results of cancer research – we can’t afford to duplicate research efforts; converting the healthcare system from one that is illness-based to one that is wellness-based; calling for a National Cancer Summit; and rekindling the belief and the will in the American people that cancer is a disease that will not be tolerated any longer and can be defeated!

Cancer Mission 2020 is the movement to demand action, results, and to ensure that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing so that we can be victorious, once and for all, in our fight against cancer.

Join me, join more than one million others, join Cancer Mission 2020 and know that you will be a part of a coordinated effort to END CANCER BY THE END OF THE DECADE!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Whirlwind, Yet Wonderful Weekend!

As I sat watching the Red Wings play yesterday afternoon, during a beautiful day at Frontier Field, I thought about how much had transpired over the past few days and what a whirlwind of a weekend it had been, but a wonderful weekend filled with great people all helping to create some good days and special times!

I started the weekend early, as I left the Camp Good Days’ Headquarters on Friday afternoon and headed over to Lakeshore Country Club for the Rich Funke, Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament. It was so nice to be able to spend some time with Rich and Pat, and to see some of Rich Jr.’s friends from school, who continue to come out each year to play in and support this special event. It was also nice to see Molly Dillon, whose brother, Mark, was one of the original campers at Camp Good Days. Wendy also had the chance to see some people she hasn’t seen since high school, and overall, it was a great day of golf and friends!

On Saturday morning, I got up early and headed down to the Camp Good Days’ Recreational Facility, where the Young Adult Program was taking place, for those young men and women, ages 18-39 who are dealing with any form of cancer. What an extraordinary group of individuals! All of the young men and women were having a great time, in a beautiful environment, and sharing their experience with probably the only people in the world who can understand what they are going through – other young adults dealing with cancer. I am so pleased that we are able to provide this program for these young people, and that we are able to do so at no cost to the participants, as is the case with all of our programs.

In order for us to be able to provide our programs free of charge for the participants, we rely on the support and generosity of so many and the success of our special fundraising events. So, on Saturday afternoon, I left the Camp Good Days’ Recreational Facility and headed to Buffalo for the Camp Good Days’ Creative Black Tie Gala…Campers in Wonderland…which was a fantastic event coordinated by Lisa Donato in our Buffalo Office and her amazing team of volunteers and supporters. From the theme, to the decorations, the volunteers, campers, and guests, it was truly an evening in WONDERLAND!

In addition to raising some of the funds to support our programs and services it also provided the opportunity to spend an evening with some friends including Buffalo Sabres’ Head Coach, Lindy Ruff; Honorary Chairman, Paul Gaustad; outstanding supporters, Lorraine & Hormoz Mansouri; United States Attorney, William Hochul and his wife, Kathy; former United States Attorney, Denise O’Donnell and her husband, John; United States Congresswoman, Louise Slaughter and her husband, Bob; as well as longtime volunteers, Mike & Linda Spino, Larry Sicurella, Dick Esthimer, and so many more!

On behalf of all the children and families at Camp Good Days, I would like to thank all those who volunteered their time to make the Buffalo Creative Black Tie gala another wonderful success, and many thanks to all those who attended and generously supported the event!

As we begin a new week, during which we are all preparing for the start of the residential camping programs, I am looking forward to the week ahead and another whirlwind weekend, during which we will host the seventh of our Project T.I.P.S. (Trust, Information, Programs & Services) events, where we will join with local law enforcement and community agency partners to work in the Ontario & Scio Street neighborhood to help combat the crime and violence the residents there have dealt with; and to Saturday morning, as I have been invited to provide the Commencement Address at Gananda High School, where my granddaughter, Ryan, will graduate!

It is a busy time for sure, but as I reflect on the weekend past and think of what is coming this week, I feel blessed and honored to have such wonderful people and dear friends who all come together, in big ways and small, to help create some good days and special times that we all share!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Creating Memories

When my daughter, Teddi, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 1979, it quickly became apparent to me that it was not the surgery, radiation or chemotherapy that was causing her the most pain, it was the loneliness and the fact that her battle with cancer was robbing her of her childhood. Therefore, one of my main objectives when starting Camp Good Days and Special Times 31 years ago, was to be able to provide an opportunity for children with cancer to regain some of that lost childhood, and have the chance to just be kids, with the only others in the world who could truly understand what they were going through – other children with cancer.

I also wanted Camp Good Days to be a place where children and families could create some wonderful memories and I chose the name because I wanted it to be GOOD DAYS when the children were at Camp Good Days, and the memories of the SPECIAL TIMES they had, would carry them through the difficult times. I hope that we here at Camp Good Days have been able to fulfill that commitment of creating memories, through the residential camping experiences and year-round events and activities. Sometimes, we are able to help make memories, through the support of those in our community, who offer the opportunity for some of our campers to be a part of something extraordinary.

This past Wednesday evening, I sat in the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, with some of our staff members, and watched with excitement as one of our campers, Matt Elkins, served as the Honorary Chairman for the Rochester Press Radio Club’s Day of Champion’s Dinner, alongside, Coca-Cola Sports Personality of Year Award Recipient, Super Bowl MVP, Drew Brees. Throughout the entire evening, Matt’s grin went from ear to ear, as he sat next to Drew Brees, in front of some 1200 attendees.

Matt is an eighth-grade student and has been a camper for the past six years, here at Camp Good Days, having battled cancer. In addition to attending Camp Good Days, Matt served as an Honorary Coach with the St. John Fisher College Cardinals for the Inaugural Courage Bowl, the annual football game between the St. John Fisher College Cardinals and the University of Rochester Yellowjackets, to benefit Camp Good Days.

Thanks to the Rochester Press Radio Club, we were able to provide an opportunity for Matt and his family to create some very special memories on Wednesday night. Despite the dais being two-tiered with award recipients and honorees, Drew Brees took a few moments to recognize Matt and to thank him for helping him out. I can only imagine how exciting that was for Matt, to have one of the most popular and successful NFL players take the time to not only take photos and sign autographs but to recognize him in front of all the other honorees and attendees.

It is opportunities and experiences, such as the one we were able to share with Matt on Wednesday, that truly exemplifies what Camp Good Days is all about and why we do all that we do for children and their families whose lives have been touched by cancer and other life threatening challenges, and it is the memories carried away that are the “good days and special times”.
PHOTO: Matt Elkins served as one of the Honorary Coaches with the St. John Fisher College Cardinals, for the Inaugural Camp Good Days Courage Bowl in September 2005.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Night of Gratitude!

There are few places in which you can bring together a group of people, of varying age, race, gender, and life experience, and have them all be there for the same reason – to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. I have been so blessed over the past 30 years that Camp Good Days is one of those rare places. We have had thousands and thousands of volunteers and supporters over the years that have all come to Camp Good Days with one common goal – to improve the quality of life for children and their families whose lives have been touched by cancer.

Each year, we honor some of these men and women who have truly gone above and beyond in helping us to fulfill our mission. We have traditionally presented the Teddi Awards and the Ring of Honor inductees at our Annual Holiday Party, but we felt that these special people deserved a special night of their own, where we could take the time to really recognize and honor their endless hours of dedication, time and love to the children and families we serve.

This past Friday evening we held our first Annual Night of Gratitude and by all accounts it was a wonderful success! Some 200 guests including our honorees, their families, friends, and other volunteers and supporters of Camp Good Days gathered together at the Rochester Plaza in downtown Rochester.

During A Night of Gratitude, we recognized those individuals selected as recipients of the Teddi Award, named in memory of my daughter, Teddi, the inspiration behind Camp Good Days, who are all people who throughout the course of 2009 gave above and beyond to the children and families at Camp Good Days.

Some, like Frank Towner, Dave O’Brien, John Brown, Canandaigua National Bank and the Rochester Red Wings, stepped up in the past year to help us celebrate our 30th Anniversary Year; while others such as Stacey & Chris Ruisi, Lynne & Randy Stiefler, Tony Gasparre, Judy & Merrill Greenstein, Scott Vallow, Key Bank in Buffalo, and the managers and employees at JC Penney stores in the Rochester area, helped to ensure that our many special fundraising events were successful, enabling us to raise the funds necessary to continue providing all of our programs free of charge for the participants. The recipients like Tom Kelly, Bell Steffen, Lenny Craft, and Dawn Hezel are all volunteers who are there for us every time we ask, helping us to provide our campers with safe, fun and unique residential camping programs and year-round recreational and support activities.

THANK YOU to all of our Teddi Award recipients for all they did to help Camp Good Days and CONGRATULATIONS on your Teddi Award!

We also recognized those selected for induction into the Camp Good Days’ Ring of Honor. The Ring of Honor was established as part of Camp Good Days’ 25th Anniversary Celebration in 2004 and includes those who are selected for their outstanding dedication, commitment and support of the thousands of children and families served over the years. In addition to their award, inductee’s names will be included in the permanent Ring of Honor display, which is located at the Camp Good Days’ Recreational Facility, in Branchport, NY, for all to see.

The Ring of Honor Inductees are: Lyle Corey, Eric Foster, The Gayden / Pettway Family, David Korones, MD, The Lederman Family, Sande Macaluso, Lorraine & Hormoz Mansouri, Sue Powers,
Carmen Ramos, and TOPS Markets. Words are not enough to express the years of volunteer service and astounding financial support these inductees have given to the children and families at Camp Good Days…some for more than 10 years and some who have been with us since the very beginning in 1979!

In addition to the Ring of Honor Inductees noted above, we inducted Shannon Grieve, our former Camp Director / Volunteer Coordinator, who had been with Camp Good Days for more than eight years. Shannon has recently moved on to a new position with ABVI-Goodwill and hers will be big shoes to fill!

CONGRATULATIONS to all of our Ring of Honor Inductees and THANK YOU for everything you have done and continue to do to help Camp Good Days!

Over the past 30 years, Camp Good Days has served more than 42,000 campers from 22 states and 25 foreign countries! We have received the coveted Four-Star Rating from and we have been inducted into the Safety 1st Hall of Fame by Markel Insurance Companies. The only reason we have been able to do this and that we are able to continue all that we do is because of the support we receive from so many, like all those selected as Teddi Award recipients and inductees into the Ring of Honor.

It has been said that the two greatest gifts we as human beings can give to one another is our time and our love…all of those we recognized and honored at A Night of Gratitude have given so much of both and they are truly so very much appreciated!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reflections on the Annual Florida Trip

A group of campers and volunteers from Camp Good Days just returned from the Annual Trip to Central Florida and as they boarded the plane to return to Upstate New York I had a chance to reflect on the past few days we all spent together. The group consisted of campers from a number of our programs and included children with cancer or sickle cell anemia, young adults dealing with cancer and women from our Women’s Oncology Program and it was wonderful to see them, along with the volunteers, all interact and enjoy this magical experience together. They had the opportunity to visit St. Pete Beach and Tampa, as well as enjoy visits to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center, and Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Since the beginning of Camp Good Days, more than 30 years ago, we have been blessed to have so many special friends, who always go above and beyond to help us continue providing good days and special times to all those we serve. This trip was no exception. John & Linda Mongoven, along with their friends and neighbors at Hunter’s Creek in Orlando welcomed the group to Orlando, providing dinner, activities and an exciting Snake Education Show with Chief Rowley, all on the evening the group arrived. The next day everyone traveled to St. Pete’s Beach where they had the chance to spend the afternoon at the ocean, playing on the beach and the giant waterslide, courtesy of Tradewinds Resort and great friends, Steve & Patti DiGennaro, who also cooked dinner for everyone, inviting us all into their home. The group got to meet and spend some time with Kelly and Steve Christie, which was very exciting for some of the Buffalo Bills’ fans and those who have never had the chance to meet a former NFL player before. Thanks to the generosity of Mark Sofia and the Tampa Bay Lightening, the group got to attend the Lightening Hockey Game, watching them take on the Florida Panthers, with special Tampa Bay Lightening hats and souvenirs. Again, there were a number of participants for whom this was their first time attending a NHL game.

The rest of the trip was spent at the theme parks, riding the rides and taking in all the excitement of each park, from seeing their favorite characters, the Illuminations Show at Epcot and the Celebration Parade at Magic Kingdom. To hear the cheers of everyone on the bus as we pulled into the Walt Disney World and to see everyone’s faces light up, both the children and adults, as we took the ferry boat over to Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s castle came into view, is truly beyond description. We also had plenty of time in the hotel pool and time to just relax with everyone. Overall, it was a fantastic trip during which everyone bonded and had a great time.

It amazes me that no matter where we go with the campers and volunteers, the concept of this being a small world is always reaffirmed. At the various parks and attractions we visited in Central Florida, we were approached by people who had either been a part of Camp Good Days themselves or had a family member or friend who was a part of Camp Good Days and took the time to stop and chat and share how much Camp Good Days meant to those who have been a part of our family. We also were stopped by complete strangers, who seeing our Camp Good Days’ shirts and flag, wanted to just share that they had heard about Camp Good Days and to say that they had heard wonderful things about our organization. It is so nice and I am so proud that Camp Good Days has grown to become such a meaningful and important organization with a reputation and image that knows no boundaries.

This trip requires much planning and preparation and many resources. Again, we have been so blessed over the years to have supporters who help to make this trip a reality each and every year. The students at St. John Fisher College who are part of the Teddi Committee and who participate in the Annual Dance for Love, a 24-hour dance marathon, raise funds that directly support this trip for the children with cancer. The 28th Annual Dance for Love will be held this February 12-13, 2010. In addition, the Gary Amendola Fun Fund also helps to make this trip possible. This fund was established in memory of Gary Amendola, who was a good friend, supporter and member of the Camp Good Days’ Board of Directors and lost his own battle with cancer, and provides the funding for special trips and activities throughout the year. The Sugarman Smiles Fund was established at Camp Good Days by local businessman, Gary Sugarman, and helps to provide the funding for special trips and activities for adults dealing with cancer. And last, but certainly not least, this trip would never have been possible without the unwavering support of Wayne Meisenzahl who was completing his own treatment for cancer years ago and wanted to give children touched by cancer the opportunity to experience firsthand, the magic of Central Florida. The Annual Florida Trip has continued because of the generosity of Ms. Germaine K. Hess, one of Meisenzahl’s clients, who left a bequest to Camp Good Days, through an estate, specifically to ensure that Camp Good Days will be able to continue providing the Annual Florida Trip.

To see the photos from this very special trip, check out the Photo Gallery on our website, and don’t miss the 28th Annual Dance for Love at the Student Life Center at St. John Fisher College, from 8PM – 8PM, Friday & Saturday, February 12-13, 2010!