Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28, 2011

It is hard to believe that we are heading into November already! But, with the chill in the air and snow flurries in the forecast it appears that we are definitely entering the winter season and the special time of year when we all can take some time to give thanks for our many blessings and think about those who are less fortunate and how we might be able to make a difference in their lives.

As many of you know, all of the programs and services we provide here at Camp Good Days, for so many children and families whose lives have been touched by cancer, are offered free of charge for the participants. This is because I made a promise 33 years ago when I started Camp Good Days, that no family would be faced with the decision between paying their bills on time and sending their loved one to Camp Good Days. However, the only way we are able to continue fulfilling this promise is because of the assistance of thousands of volunteers and the generous support of so many individuals, businesses and organizations and the success of our many special fundraising events and activities.

One of our largest fundraising activities is the Annual Joe Benet Memorial Kazoo Fest, which has become a long-standing holiday tradition, and was started more than 60 years ago by Joe Benet outside the Toy Department of the Sibley’s store on Main Street in downtown Rochester. Following Joe Benet’s death from cancer, his son, Bill, contacted me to see if the Kazoo Fest tradition could be continued, staffed by volunteers, with proceeds benefiting the programs and services at Camp Good Days. Since 1984, Camp Good Days, with help and support from various retail locations and thousands of volunteers, has continued the Kazoo Fest. The 2011 Kazoo Fest will kick off on Black Friday – November 25, 2011 – in the Greater Rochester area at the mall entrance to JC Penney at Marketplace Mall, Greece Ridge Center Mall, and Eastview Mall, as well as at the Walden Galleria Mall in Buffalo, Carousel Center Mall in Syracuse, and The Shops at Ithaca. Hundreds of volunteers are needed at all locations, to help make this another successful Kazoo Fest! If you or someone you know is interested in helping out with this fun and important fundraising event, please contact your local Camp Good Days’ Office for more details (Rochester: 585-624-5555; Buffalo: 716-206-0709; Syracuse: 315-434-9477; Ithaca: 607-266-9180). The Kazoo Fest Volunteer Form can also be found on our website,

In addition to the many events that Camp Good Days hosts, we oftentimes have groups that hold events to raise funds to support the children and families we serve. I recently had the pleasure of attending the Hockey Versus Cancer event, which was a fun evening with some great people. This afternoon, some of the organizers of that event, along with their children visited us here at the Camp Good Days’ Headquarters to present us with the proceeds from their event. We are so thankful to all those that helped to plan and coordinate the Hockey Versus Cancer event, and all those who attended. For more information about their program, check out

There are so many ways that you and your family and friends can be involved with and support Camp Good Days and I encourage you to check out our website frequently, as well as our facebook page and to follow us on Twitter, so you can stay up-to-date with the many different activities, events, and volunteer opportunities that are available.

We also had a meeting of the Camp Good Days COURAGE BOWL Committee this afternoon, to review Courage Bowl VII, which was played on September 17, 2011 and to begin to lay the groundwork for Courage Bowl VIII in September 2012. Although there have been some rumblings about the future of the Courage Bowl and who will be participating, I can assure all of you that there will be a Courage Bowl VIII in 2012! We will be sharing plans and details about the Courage Bowl, as they are made and become available, so stay tuned! And let us never forget that the Courage Bowl was established to be more than just a football game – it is an opportunity for some very special children who are dealing with cancer to have the chance to be a part of college football team or cheerleading squad and to create some outstanding memories from that experience.

Another of our major fundraising events, and the largest in the Greater Rochester area, is the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and Auction Dinner. The Committee for this enormous event will be meeting next Tuesday evening to start to put together all of the details for both the 12th Annual Wine Competition, which will be held March 24-25, 2012 and the 12th Annual Wine Auction Dinner, scheduled for Saturday, May 5, 2012. We have announced a new Art Contest as part of this event. The Wine Cover Art Contest will serve to select the artwork that will be used and displayed on the various promotional and printed materials, including the cover artwork for the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition Entry Form and Finger Lakes International Wine Auction Dinner Program Book.

The Wine Cover Art Contest is open to anyone ages 18 and older. Artwork submissions must be original work and must be a painting, drawing, high resolution original photograph, or sketch. All of the details, entry rules and prize information, as well as the Official Entry Form can be found on our website, All submissions will be reviewed and evaluated and the top 10 finalists will be announced on Friday, December 16, 2011. The top 10 finalists’ submissions will be evaluated by a panel of judges and the winning submission will be announced on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

On a personal note, the St. John Fisher College Cardinals Football Team will host Utica College tomorrow evening at Growney Stadium and we are looking for another big win in conference play, so here’s hoping for a nice evening without rain or snow, and another victory for the Fisher Cardinals!

Wishing all of you a safe and happy weekend and Halloween!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18, 2011

Once again, the Camp Good Days’ family, along with the Rochester Institute of Technology community, and the Greater Rochester community, lost a very special soul to cancer with the passing of Donna Scheid on Monday morning. Donna leaves behind her husband, Pete, and her beautiful children.

Over the past 11 years, the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and Auction Dinner has become the single largest fundraising event for Camp Good Days in the Greater Rochester area and Donna was one of the people who committed and devoted so much of her time, talent, and many volunteer hours to help this event become so successful. The logistics of an event of this magnitude require the hard work, effort and dedication of hundreds of volunteers and even with her diagnosis and battle with cancer, Donna was always smiling and always willing to do whatever she could to help.

This brings me back to when are we going to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?! When are we, as Americans, from the greatest nation on earth, going to say that we need to do more? More not only for the 11,000 Americans who die from cancer every single week, but more for the world we will leave behind. What greater gift could we give to the world than to find the answers that have been eluding us in this fight against cancer?

In the past month alone, Walter Mondale’s daughter, Eleanor, died from cancer; Ted Kennedy’s daughter, Kara, died as a result of the cancer treatments she went through; Steve Jobs lost his battle with pancreatic cancer; and Donna lost her battle. These four individuals were under the age of 60, and all of their deaths have occurred since September 17th. These are only four of the 44,000 Americans that have died as a result of cancer during the past four weeks. These people should have had so much more life to live and so much more ahead of them.

On December 2nd, we will commemorate the one-year anniversary of announcing and launching CANCER MISSION 2020…THE END OF CANCER BY THE END OF THE DECADE. When we announced CANCER MISSION 2020 at Frontier Field in Rochester, we said that our effort would include a three-pronged approach – Information, Call to Action, Accountability.

We have been and continue to share information with people about where we currently stand in our fight against cancer. 11,000 Americans die from cancer every single week, which is as if one of the Twin Towers was falling every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. One in three American women and one in two American men will face a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetime. If you are 85 years old or younger, cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States and many believe that by 2016 cancer will be leading cause of death in the United States, regardless of age. In 2010, the World Health Organization announced that cancer was not only the most economically devastating disease, but for the first time had become the number one disease killer.

We have to go about finding the answers in a completely different way. The one area in which we have had some success is in pediatric cancer research. This success has come about because of the fact that approximately 60-70% of pediatric cancer patients are actively involved in clinical trials. However, when it comes to adults, currently only 1-3% of adult cancer patients, of which there are many more than pediatric patients, are actively involved in clinical trials. If only 1-3% of adult cancer patients are involved in clinical trials, it is easy to see why 11,000 Americans are dying every single week. This needs to change because the answers are going to be found through clinical trials and no matter how good something appears with animals in a lab, it has to also be shown to have a positive impact on human beings, otherwise it will never get into the hands of those who could most benefit.

When we announced CANCER MISSION 2020, we shared this information and asked people to visit our website, and I am pleased that thousands and thousands of people have visited the site and have joined us by signing the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition.

We also shared the belief that in order to be successful in this effort, it would have to be a cooperative and collaborative one involving government and the private sector. Cancer is an issue that affects all of us and has brought together representatives from all sides of the aisle…freshman and experienced, Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, Independent, Tea Party, etc. Cancer is an issue of the people and it crosses all lines. This past August, we held three Congressional District Cancer Summits. These Cancer Summits, held in the 25th Congressional District Cancer Summit with Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, the 28th Congressional District with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, and the 29th Congressional District with Congressman Tom Reed, brought together several hundred people, as well as some of the most prominent cancer physicians in Upstate New York. Dr. Stephen Edge of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Executive Committee, Dr. Leslie Kohman, Distinguished Service Professor, Medical Director of Surgery, and Medical Director, Upstate Cancer Center at Upstate University Hospital, Candace Johnson, PhD, Deputy Director, Chair, Pharmacology and Therapeutics and Wallace Chair in Translational Research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Lydia C. Pan, Director of Worldwide Policy at Pfizer, Inc. shared their expertise, research, comments and ideas with attendees.

We are now in the process of compiling all of the information that came out of the Congressional District Cancer Summits and preparing a CANCER MISSION 2020 Update & Report. We are also pleased to report that Congressman Richard Hanna of New York’s 24th Congressional District and Congresswoman Kathy Hochul of New York’s 26th Congressional District have committed their support and have expressed their willingness to host additional Congressional District Cancer Summits.

When my granddaughter asked me why at my age, I was taking on the CANCER MISSION 2020 effort, as she said that it seemed like a daunting task, I answered her that yes it is a daunting task, but I am tired of going to funerals.

In my role as Chairman & Founder of Camp Good Days, which just began its 33rd year of operation, I have had the opportunity to work with thousands of cancer patients and their families and I have gone to way too many funerals, probably more funerals than some clergy members.

If we are going to be successful in this effort it is going to take all of us! PLEASE, if you have not yet checked out CANCER MISSION 2020,, please go to the site, sign the petition and join us in this important initiative. And please, share the site and the initiative with your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, co-workers, fellow parishioners, etc. It is going to take all of us, together, to finally find the answers and put an end to cancer by the end of the decade!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 13, 2011

Happy New Year to all of us here at Camp Good Days! As I noted in my last posting, our fiscal year came to a close on September 30, 2011, so we are now in the beginning weeks of our 2011-2012 Fiscal Year. We have many things going on, being planned, discussed and reviewed.

We held our semi-annual Staff Retreat last Thursday. We do these Staff Retreats twice a year, one in the Spring before Camp officially opens for the summer and one in the Fall and we end one Fiscal Year and begin a new one. We all came together and spent the day reviewing and reflecting on the past year – our programs and services, our special fundraising events, our recruitment and outreach efforts for new volunteers and program participants, and our exposure and awareness throughout the communities we serve. We also discussed our plans for the coming year in regards to what we think we want to continue offering, what things might need to be changed or reevaluated, and some new ideas for fulfilling our mission to improve the quality of life for children, adults and families whose lives have been touched by cancer. In addition, we took some time to hear from Mark Kreydt from Tompkins Insurance Agencies and Jared Lusk from the Nixon Peabody Law Firm to learn more and gain a better understanding of some of the current and relevant concerns and challenges we face as an organization in regards to insurance and legal issues. Overall the Staff Retreat was very informative and productive for all of us and will help enable us to continue making a difference in the lives of those we serve, doing so in the safest and most efficient and effective ways possible.

We hosted our final session of the Women’s Oncology Programs for the 2011 season this past weekend at the Recreational Facility. Approximately 50 women who are all dealing with cancer had the opportunity to spend a fun-filled, supportive weekend at Camp Good Days, in the company of those who can truly understand what they are going through as a woman dealing with cancer – other women with cancer. We were blessed with some beautiful weather and the women had a fantastic time at the many activities available throughout the weekend. Special thanks goes out to all of the volunteers who gave so much of their time, talent and love to make this weekend memorable for these women!

Unfortunately, I personally was not able to attend the Women’s Oncology Program as I was in Ithaca for the St. John Fisher College Football game. For those of you who have been following this blog, we came out victorious two weekends ago against longtime rival, Alfred, after a tough loss to Hobart the week before, and I am pleased to report that although it came down to the wire and wasn’t the prettiest game to watch, we were triumphant against Ithaca! With this win we are now in a position to really make a run for the Empire 8 Conference Championship. This Saturday we take on Frostburg at home at 12Noon, so again, keep your fingers crossed that we walk away with another one in the win column!

Back to Camp Good Days…and our new Fiscal Year…as we lay the groundwork and plans for the coming weeks and months, a key part of that process is our Board of Directors who help us to fulfill our mission and serve to provide guidance and direction for our long-term strategic plans. We are looking forward to our next Board of Director’s Meeting this coming Tuesday, October 18, 2011 and to getting to work with all of the Board Members on how they can best help us to continue fulfilling our mission and vision.

Also coming up soon is the Annual Joe Benet Memorial Kazoo Fest! I am so pleased that here in the Rochester community, our local JC Penney Store Managers at Eastview Mall, Greece Ridge Center Mall, and Marketplace Mall have generously and graciously agreed to allow us to hold the Kazoo Fest at the mall entrances to their stores. Their continued support for this important annual fundraising event is beyond measure and so much appreciated! We are also excited that we will once again have the Kazoo Fest at the Walden-Galleria Mall in Buffalo; the Carousel Mall in Syracuse; and the Shops at Ithaca. This year’s Kazoo Fest will kick off on Friday, November 25, 2011 and go through Friday, December 23, 2011. The Kazoo Fest has become a great Holiday tradition in all of these communities and provides us with a fantastic opportunity to be out in the community during the busy shopping season to share all of our programs and services with potential participants and volunteers and to raise some of the much needed funds that are necessary for us to be able to continue offering our programs and services free of charge.

We need HUNDREDS OF VOLUNTEERS to help make the Kazoo Fest a success! We only ask for people to commit a few hours (or as many as they would like) and volunteers can choose their preferred location, date and shift. If you or someone you know is interested in helping out with this fun and important fundraising event, please contact your local Camp Good Days’ Office for more details (Rochester: 585-624-5555; Buffalo: 716-206-0709; Syracuse: 315-434-9477; Ithaca: 607-266-9180).

Another exciting event is the upcoming World’s Largest Disco, put on by Conesus Fest for Charity, which will be held on Saturday, November 26, 2011 at the Buffalo Convention Center from 9:00 PM – 1:00 AM. This year’s event is SOLD OUT, as it is every year and those who are fortunate enough to attend always rave about what a fabulous time they have. Proceeds from this amazing event benefit the children and families at Camp Good Days. For more information and to see some great photos, the history and to learn how to be a part of the World’s Largest Disco in the future, check out

We are continuing to work and move forward with CANCER MISSION 2020…THE END OF CANCER BY THE END OF THE DECADE. Taking the information, suggestions, ideas, discussions, and comments that came out of the Congressional District Cancer Summits held in August, we are putting together an Update / Report / Newsletter, highlighting what took place and where we are headed. We are also setting up a meeting with representatives from the district offices of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Congressman Tom Reed, Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul and Congressman Richard Hanna in order to identify some of the items from the Cancer Summits that can be developed into actual legislation, as well as a statement to be read, jointly, by these representatives, into the official Congressional Record. We are also working on developing some new media concepts and staying in touch with our College Campus Advocates. We will keep you posted on these plans and please, check out, join us and thousands of others by signing the petition, and share the site, information and petition with your network of contacts.

Last, but certainly not least, we would like to offer our heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS to Lisa Donato, our Regional Director in our Buffalo Office on her recent engagement! We wish Lisa and Jonathan a long life together filled with good health, happiness and much, much love!