Saturday, December 15, 2012

Holiday Update

As you can imagine, things have been very hectic and busy, here at Camp Good Days, and the time just goes by so quickly.  As 2012 rapidly comes to a close we are in the final days of the Annual Joe Benet Memorial Kazoo Fest; we are hosting some Petition Drives for CANCER MISSION 2020; completing our annual independent audit and working on the budget for the coming year. 


The Kazoo Fest is taking place at the malls in Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse and Ithaca, so if you are out doing your holiday shopping, stop by the Kazoo Fest tables and pick up some great stocking stuffers and gifts.  If you are in need of a large amount of kazoos, which make a great addition to any holiday or New Year’s celebration, please call our Headquarters at 585-624-5555 and we would be happy to accommodate your bulk purchase.  Once again, I would like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to the store managers and employees at JC Penney at Eastview Mall, Marketplace Mall, and Greece-Ridge Center Mall, as well as the staff at Walden-Galleria Mall, Destiny USA, and the Shops at Ithaca, for their continued support and for making it possible for us to host the Annual Kazoo Fest at their locations again this season.


This special time of year provides us with the opportunity to be thankful for our many blessings.  Camp Good Days has so many special angels, who in small ways and large ways, help us to continue fulfilling our mission and who have helped me to keep my daughter Teddi’s memory and legacy going, and for that I am forever grateful. 


It is also the time that we plan for the coming year and all of the excitement and unknown that goes along with that.  With that in mind, I would like to share with you some of our objectives for 2013. 


There has been a lot going on in regards to CANCER MISSION 2020.  We are currently working with a small committee to make some changes and updates to the CANCER MISSION 2020 website,, and are looking forward to sharing those changes very soon. 


As many of you know, CANCER MISSION 2020 was officially launched on December 2, 2010 and it is hard to believe that two years have gone by already.   We are proud of how far we have come in such a short time and we are excited about the coming year.  CANCER MISSION 2020 is based on a three-prong approach of INFORMATION – CALL TO ACTION – ACCOUNTABILITY. 


To put things in perspective: the odds of tripping while texting are 1 in 10 – the odds of getting cancer in your lifetime are 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women.  11,000 Americans are dying from cancer every week – that is one American every single minute! 


In 2013, we will continue with the INFORMATION phase, through hosting CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition Drives, re-invigorating our CANCER MISSION 2020 College Campus Advocates Program, and I am pleased that we have a new staff member, Phil Martello, who will be helping with the social media aspects of CANCER MISSION 2020.  We will also be moving into the CALL TO ACTION phase with the re-introduction of the legislation that was introduced by Congressman Tom Reed into Congress this past year.  This legislation is a direct result of the recommendations that came as a result of the Congressional District Cancer Summits held in 2011.  We will also be looking at hosting additional Congressional District Cancer Summits during 2013.  We will be moving forward with the Action Plan to Reduce the Burden of Cancer in Monroe County – where cancer is now the leading cause of death – in March, during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, as colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in Monroe County. 


Special thanks to all those who have responded to our call for help in obtaining signatures for the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petitions, both online and in person.  Thousands have signed the petition and we continue that effort, as there is strength in numbers and we need that strength to demonstrate to our leaders that we want cancer to be a top priority.  Please share the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition with your network – people can sign online or download hard-copy petition sheets at 


We are in the process of putting together our summer program schedule and we will be making a concentrated effort to reach out to all of the hospitals that serve adults dealing with cancer, particularly to share information about our Women’s Oncology Program, as well as our Childhood USA programs for children who have a parent or sibling dealing with cancer, and our Camp B&ST programs for children who have lost a parent or sibling to cancer.  And as we always have been, we will continue to be dedicated to serving children who are dealing with cancer.


Through our Partners Against Violence Everywhere (PAVE) Initiative, we will continue to help coordinate the Project Exile Program, which is a joint law enforcement and community initiative to help remove illegal guns from the streets of our community; look at Project T.I.P.S. (Trust, Information, Programs and Services) for next summer; continue to hold the very successful Homework Huddle tutoring and mentoring program; and continue our relationships and partnerships, working with the Rochester City School District and the Leadership Program and the Rochester Police Department’s Do The Right Thing Award Program. 


Along with all of the above-mentioned things, we are looking to renovate the Arts & Crafts and Woodworking activity areas at the Recreational Facility, which are two of the most popular activities for our campers.  The renovated Arts & Crafts area will be done in memory of renowned artist, Ramon Santiago, who until losing his own battle to cancer, was a dear and special friend to the children at Camp Good Days.  We are also having our Headquarters and Volunteer Training Facility re-sided.


And last but not least, I was recently going through some boxes and came across a movie script that had been written in 1996, based on For the Love of Teddi: The Story Behind Camp Good Days and Special Times, which was written by Dr. Lou Buttino. I am dusting it off and hoping to be able to update it and take it to the marketplace and share our story with many more people.


The New Year is like a new day, approached with hope and promise and I will do my best in the coming year to keep you all updated on our plans and progress, as we move forward. 


Wishing all of you a joyous Holiday Season and a New Year filled with good health, peace, happiness and much love!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cancer and the Election

First and foremost, I hope that everyone has weathered through Hurricane Sandy safe and sound! 


We are one week away from the 2012 Elections and as I am sure many of you will agree, this has been a long and highly competitive campaign season on many levels, especially in the race for the White House and I hope that each and every one of you who is eligible to do so will take a few minutes out of your day next Tuesday, November 6th and vote, and I hope that you will take some time over the next week to consider the candidates and what each of them stands for and promises to do for our country. 


When considering the candidates, consider this: we have had four and a half hours of Presidential debates, and during those 270 minutes, not once did either candidate make mention of cancer and what they would do, as the leader of this country, to find the answers to this horrible disease that is taking the lives of 11,000 Americans every week. 


These 11,000 Americans are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and as it were in my case, our children.  Deaths in America from cancer are the equivalent of one of the Twin Towers falling every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  In America today if you are 85 years of age or younger, cancer is the leading cause of death and for those between the ages of 30-65, cancer claims more lives than the next three causes combined.  For those 0-14 years old, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death.  It was recently announced that cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics in the United States and right here in Monroe County, cancer is the leading cause of death regardless of age, race, or gender!  Many people believe that if we do not do something, by 2016, cancer will be the leading cause of death in America, regardless of age.  From a financial standpoint, cancer is one of the most, if not the most, economically devastating diseases, and finding the answers needs to be a national priority and needs to be moved to the front burner. 


Let’s take a look at some odds:  Odds of dating a supermodel: 1 in 88,000; Odds of bowling the perfect game: 1 in 11,500; Odds of catching a ball at a major league game: 1 in 563; Odds of tripping while texting: 1 in 10; Odds of getting cancer in your lifetime: 1 in 2 men, 1 in 3 women.   These odds are unacceptable.


The answers are going to come through clinical trials.  Where we have made some progress is in childhood cancer, as some 65-70% of all pediatric cancer patients are involved in clinical trials, where in comparison, only 1-3% of adult cancer patients are involved in clinical trials.  If clinical trials are where the answers are going to be found, it is easy to see why we are losing this fight against cancer. 


Since starting CANCER MISSION 2020…THE END OF CANCER BY THE END OF THE DECADE almost two years ago, I have talked to people at every major cancer center in the country.  We know more now than we ever have and we are on the verge of finding the answers, but we need to put our resources into clinical trials and this needs to be a priority for our leaders in government.  If we continue to do things the same way we have been doing them, yet expect different results, that is the true definition of insanity. 


The President’s most important job is to protect the American people.  As American citizens, and as voters, the majority of us having been touched by cancer directly or indirectly, we can no longer bury our heads in the sand and wait for someone else to find the answers to cancer. 


Let’s ask our leaders, and the candidates, what they are going to do to protect the American people from cancer – a disease that not only takes the lives of so many prematurely, but seems to have to humiliate them in the process.  It is time to rekindle 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!


If you agree that we can do better in our fight against cancer, check out, sign the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition, download copies of the Petition and collect signatures, and share this information with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers.  There is strength in numbers and together, we can put an end to cancer by the end of the decade!


Wishing all of you a safe and Happy Halloween, and don’t forget to vote on Election Day!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Help Camp Good Days This Holiday Season!

Fall is certainly in the air here in Upstate New York and with the change in season, all of us at Camp Good Days are gearing up for the coming Holiday Season and looking forward to the New Year!


With the Holiday Season comes one of our largest and most important special events – the Annual Joe Benet Memorial Kazoo Fest.  The Kazoo Fest, which has become a long-standing holiday tradition, 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 and has since become one of the major and most successful fundraising events to benefit the many programs and services we provide. Following Joe Benet’s death from cancer, his son, former Monroe County Legislator, Bill Benet, 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. 


I am so pleased to share with you that we will once again have Kazoo Fest locations at the mall entrance to JC Penney at Marketplace Mall, Greece-Ridge Center Mall, and Eastview Mall in the Rochester area.  We will also have Kazoo Fest locations at the Galleria Mall in Buffalo; Destiny USA, the former Carousel Center, in Syracuse; and The Shops at Ithaca in the Southern Tier Region.  The Kazoo Fest kicks off on Friday, November 23, 2012 and goes through Sunday, December 23, 2012 and will feature the name-sake Camp Good Days’ kazoos, the always popular, peppermint-scented Candy Cane Pens, and other merchandise. 


HUNDREDS OF VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED to help make the Annual Joe Benet Memorial Kazoo Fest a great success.  No previous volunteer experience is needed and volunteers may select their preferred Kazoo Fest location, as well as their preferred dates and times.  If you are interested in volunteering a few hours of your time this Holiday Season, please contact your local Camp Good Days Office (Headquarters / Rochester: 585-624-5555; Buffalo: 716-206-0709; Syracuse: 315-434-9477; Ithaca: 607-266-9180) or check out 


As we approach the Holiday Season, I would like to ask two favors of each of you. 


The first is that you keep the children and families at Camp Good Days in your thoughts when deciding on your year-end giving.  The only way we are able to continue providing all of our programs and services, for so many who are dealing with cancer, free of charge for the participants, is because of the generosity of so many and the success of special fundraising events.


The second favor is to ask for your help in CANCER MISSION 2020, which many of you know is very important to Camp Good Days, to me personally, and is something that I am fully committed to.  As I shared in my last post, over the past two years we have made great strides in our CANCER MISSION 2020 efforts.  We have hosted three Congressional District Cancer Summits, the result of which was legislation (H.R. 5283) introduced into the House of Representatives by Congressman Tom Reed.  Thousands of people, from all 50 states and 95 foreign countries, have visited the CANCER MISSION 2020 website and signed the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition and we have a number of CANCER MISSION 2020 College Campus Advocates working on our behalf at campuses across Upstate New York.  Most recently, after receiving the news that cancer is now the leading cause of death in Monroe County, Monroe County Executive, Maggie Brooks, asked Dr. Byron Kennedy, Deputy Director of the Monroe County Department of Public Health, and myself, to lead a small, working committee to develop the first steps in addressing this.  We were pleased to have presented the Action Plan to Address the Burden of Cancer in Monroe County at a breakfast meeting on Monday, September 24, 2012, to more than 100 community, medical government and business leaders.  We are now in the midst of many follow-up meetings and presentations regarding this plan.


While we have been making some real progress, we still have a long way to go and WE NEED YOUR HELP!  Let’s take a look at some of the odds…


Odds of becoming an astronaut: 1 in 13,200,000

Odds of getting struck by lightning: 1 in 576,000

Odds of bowling the perfect game: 1 in 11,500

Odds of catching a ball at a major league game: 1 in 563

Odds of tripping while texting: 1 in 10

Odds of getting cancer in your lifetime: 1 in 2 men, 1 in 3 women

Those are pretty staggering and disturbing odds! 


There is strength in numbers and one of our key action items is to have as many signatures as possible on the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition, which will serve as the voice to our community, our government leaders, and our country, that we all want cancer moved to the front burner and want to put an end to this dreadful disease that is taking 11,000 of our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children every single week. 


You can find the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition online at  It is our hope that you will share this with your friends, family members, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, etc. and ask them to sign the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition and join us in this effort.  Hard-copy Petition sheets are also available on the website, which you can print and share.  Completed sheets can be returned to us here at Camp Good Days. 


Should you need additional petition sheets or if you are a member of an organization, business, or group that would be interested in having a presentation about CANCER MISSION 2020, please contact Laura Osborn, here at Camp Good Days, 585-624-5555 or  


On behalf of all of us at Camp Good Days, I would like to thank you, in advance, for your help and support in this important effort and we wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe Holiday Season!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

September Update

I know it has been quite some time since my last post, but things have just been crazy around here, as we finish the transition from the Recreational Facility to the office, and have had a number of events and activities going on.


On Saturday, September 15, 2012, COURAGE BOWL VIII was played.  The COURAGE BOWL is the annual football game between the St. John Fisher College Cardinals and the University of Rochester Yellowjackets, to benefit the children and families at Camp Good Days.  This year’s game took on extra meaning, as it was the final game in the series between the Cardinals and the Yellowjackets. 


We went into this game wanting to give the Honorary Coaches, which included Danny Bookhart, III; Ryan Kruzicke; and Zack Murphy for the Cardinals; and Denton Jajkowski; Lucas Lowe; and Nicholas Krentz for the Yellowjackets; and the Honorary Cheerleaders, which included Katie Foster and Mareesa Boyatzies for the Cardinals; and Morgan DeMatteo and Kendell Caton for the Yellowjackets; a special experience and the opportunity to create some memories that they will carry with them for a long time.  We also wanted to give the players from both teams the chance to spend some time with these amazing campers.  We hoped for a beautiful fall day and a game which would showcase the exceptional Division III football played here, as we can oftentimes be overlooked with the Buffalo Bills to the west and Syracuse to the east.  We wanted a competitive game on the field, without injuries, that would keep the spectators interested.  We wanted a respectable crowd in the stands and a halftime show different from previous years.


Looking back, we could not have scripted it any better if we tried!  On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, the Courage Bowl Community Luncheon was hosted by St. John Fisher College President, Dr. Donald Bain.  In addition to formally announcing the Honorary Coaches and Honorary Cheerleaders, it was officially proclaimed to be COURAGE BOWL WEEK in the County of Monroe, the City of Rochester, and the Town of Pittsford.  We were thrilled that The College at Brockport President, Dr. John Halstead, and Athletic Director, Erick Hart, were able to join us for the luncheon, as we are looking forward to having The College at Brockport Golden Eagles as the opponent for the St. John Fisher College Cardinals in the Courage Bowl games, when they join the Empire 8 Conference. 


On Thursday, September 13, 2012 and Friday, September 14, 2012, the Honorary Coaches and Honorary Cheerleaders all had the chance to attend practice with their respective teams and the players and cheerleaders from both schools went above and beyond in making our campers feel welcome and a part of the team! 


On Saturday, September 15, 2012, thousands of fans filled Growney Stadium on the St. John Fisher College campus.  It was a perfect night for football and the game was very exciting, coming down to the final minutes of play and ending in a Cardinals victory, 20-16, over the Yellowjackets.  Adding to the excitement of the evening, Jennifer Dinolfo sang God Bless America and the acappella groups, Measure 13 from St. John Fisher College and Vocal Point from the University of Rochester, performed the National Anthem together.  At halftime, we presented the Third Annual Courage Award to Rochester Police Department Officers, Adam Alliet and Paul Dondorfer, who along with three medical students and a doctor from the University of Rochester Medical Center helped to rescue a father and his two small children from the Erie Canal in August.  Following the Courage Award presentation, the Gates Chili High School Marching Band put on a fantastic halftime show. 


For those who were unable to make it to the game, the COURAGE BOWL was carried live on WYSL 1040AM / 92.1 FM and on SportsRadio 950 ESPN, and was broadcast live across New York State by Time Warner Cable Sports.  If you missed the game, or want to see it again, it is now available OnDemand for Time Warner cable customers. 


We want to thank all of our partners and sponsors – St. John Fisher College, the University of Rochester, the County of Monroe, TOPS Markets, The Flanders Group, Karpus Investment Management, Passero Associates, Phoenix Graphics, Time Warner Cable Sports, Clear Channel Radio, and Vanderstyne Toyota, who helped to make COURAGE BOWL VIII a great success, as well as all of our Courage Bowl Souvenir Program Book advertisers and all the fans who came out in support of the children and families at Camp Good Days!


We are all looking forward to beginning a new chapter in the COURAGE BOWL playbook next year and we are excited about the continued growth of this very special event. 


Following the COURAGE BOWL, we jumped right back into things and last Friday, September 21, 2012, we held a Press Conference during which we announced that the final Project T.I.P.S. event for this year will take place this Friday, September 28, 2012 in the Webster Avenue neighborhood. Project T.I.P.S. stands for Trust, Information, Programs & Services, and includes community agencies and law enforcement personnel working in selected neighborhoods to rebuild trust amongst residents and share information.  Locations are selected by Rochester Police Chief, James Sheppard, along with his command staff, with collaboration from the Rochester Fire Department and other partner agencies.


Project T.I.P.S. will again include door-to-door, anonymous community surveys, conducted  by groups of one Police Officer, one Fire Fighter, and two volunteers, who will visit residents within the neighborhood to create conversations about quality of life issues, as well as to obtain information about the crime and violence that has plagued the neighborhood, in an anonymous format for residents.  The groups will also provide residents with information and contacts they can use regarding services that range from health care issues (cancer, diabetes, heart disease) to reporting information for things such as crime, vandalism, and fire. 


Residents are invited to attend a community cookout and get together, in the Webster Avenue neighborhood, (Thomas Ryan Community Center / School #33, 500 Webster Avenue, 14609), where they can come and obtain more information from service providers and law enforcement agencies, as well as have some food and beverages, and have the opportunity to visit with their neighbors that they know and meet some neighbors they may not know. 


Bringing Project T.I.P.S. into a neighborhood such as that of Webster Avenue and providing residents with information about the many services and programs available to them, as well as creating for them a forum in which they can share concerns, issues or suggestions, is a positive and productive effort.  Each of the previous Project T.I.P.S. events has proven to be very successful and provides residents and community members the opportunity to share issues they are facing, in a safe and anonymous format, while also giving them tools and information they can use in the future.  Given the recent crime and violence that has plagued our community over these past few months, we feel that bringing Project T.I.P.S. into the Webster Avenue neighborhood could not come at a better time.  We all share the responsibility and obligation, as residents of this community, to stand up against the violence by sharing information and reporting suspicious and illegal activity, and help to take back our neighborhoods in a positive and safe way.


After Project T.I.P.S. on Friday, many of us will head down to the Camp Good Days’ Recreational Facility for a full weekend.  The Women’s Oncology Wellness Program will take place from Friday evening through Sunday morning and approximately 60 women who are all dealing with cancer will have the opportunity to spend a beautiful fall weekend on the shores of Keuka Lake, taking part in a variety of activities such as Fishing, Yoga, Massage, Manicures, Mary Kay Makeovers, Arbonne Skin Care, Jewelry Making, Jafra, Woodworking, Reiki, and more. 


In addition to the Women’s Wellness Program, we will be hosting the Tour de Teddi, a bike ride around scenic Keuka Lake on Saturday.  Sponsored by Marina Auto Group, BonaDent Dental Laboratories, and Park Avenue Bike Shop, Tour de Teddi will start and finish at the Camp Good Days’ Recreational Facility.  Tour de Teddi offers three different cycling courses: a 45-mile ride around Keuka Lake; a 27-mile ride to Hammondsport and back; and a 14-mile ride along Keuka Lake.   The 45-mile ride begins at 10:00 AM, followed by the start of the 27-mile ride and 14-mile ride at 11:00 AM.  Close to 200 participants are registered to take part in Tour de Teddi and we are excited about bringing back this fun event.


As you all know, CANCER MISSION 2020…THE END OF CANCER BY THE END OF THE DECADE is an effort that is very important to me and one that I am and will continue to dedicate my time and commitment to.  This past Monday morning, after many months of hard work, I was so pleased to join Dr. Byron Kennedy, Deputy Director of the Monroe County Department of Public Health, to present the Action Plan to Reduce the Burden of Cancer in our Community, on behalf of our committee, to Monroe County Executive, Maggie Brooks, and approximately 100 government, medical, service agency, business, and community representatives. 


In late 2011, it was brought to my attention that cancer is now the leading cause of death in Monroe County, which led me to meet a number of times with Dr. Kennedy.  We then met with County Executive Brooks on Thursday, December 29, 2011 and it was suggested that she host a meeting to share this information.


That meeting took place on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at Monroe Community Hospital where approximately 35 people joined us, including Rochester Mayor, Tom Richards; Monroe County Clerk, Cheryl Dinolfo; and representatives from Congressman Tom Reed’s Office; Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle’s Office; Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s Office; Congresswoman Kathy Hochul’s Office; Wilmot Cancer Center; University of Rochester Medical Center; Rochester General Hospital; Thompson Health; Anthony Jordan Health Center; Rochester Primary Care Network; Greater Rochester Health Foundation; Monroe County Board of Health / Penfield Place; American Cancer Society; and Gilda’s Club Rochester. 


In follow-up to this initial meeting, and based upon the synergy and enthusiasm displayed, County Executive Brooks asked us to form and lead a small committee to develop a plan to serve as a first step for how our community could respond to the news that cancer is now the leading cause of death in Monroe County.  More than 40 individuals, representing a wide cross section of private, not-for-profit, medical, and governmental agencies and organizations have supported and / or contributed to the establishment and progress of CANCER MISSION 2020 and the development of this plan.


The Action Plan for Reducing the Burden of Cancer in the County of Monroe focuses on four key areas:

·         Education and Awareness -  educating residents about how to reduce cancer risks

·         Prevention- working towards tobacco free policies

·         Screening- increasing colorectal cancer screening rates

·         Support Services- ensuring that all cancer patients have access to support services


This plan is presented as a starting point for our community, to share information about where we currently are, as well as to provide some initial recommendations for moving forward in addressing this.  It is the hope that fellow community members will embrace this plan through action, by finding ways in which they can help to address this serious and life threatening issue. This plan can also serve as a model for other communities across New York State and the country, as they receive the news that cancer is the leading cause of death in their community and seek ways in which to respond to that news.  Cancer is already the leading cause of death in the United States for those 85 and younger and many believe that if something significant is not done soon, by 2016, cancer will be the leading cause of death in the United States, regardless of age.


To learn more about the plan and ways that you can get involved with the implementation, check out 


I hope that I have caught everyone up on all that has been going on here at Camp Good Days and there will be much more to come as we begin our new fiscal year this coming Monday, October 1, 2012, and with that our 34th year of serving children and families who are dealing with cancer. 


I wish you all a safe and happy weekend and based on the Camp Good Days’ calendar, a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Sad and Difficult Week

This past week has been a very difficult one, where in the midst of the excitement and challenges of the final weeks of our 33rd summer of programs, we have lost two very special members of our Camp Good Days’ family.

Last Wednesday, while at our Recreational Facility, I learned that a very special friend of mine, and someone who had been instrumental in helping me to start Camp Good Days, had passed away.  Former Monroe County Legislator and Family Court Judge, Anthony F. Bonadio died last week after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. 

Judge Bonadio was always the first to stand up for young people in our community and while most would use Family Court as a stepping stone to bigger positions, Judge Bonadio was honored and pleased to serve as a Judge in Family Court for two full terms (20 years).

Judge Bonadio was a good husband to his wife, Marilyn, a good father to his four children, and loving grandfather to his grandchildren.  In addition, he was a very special friend to the many, many children and families at Camp Good Days and was someone who could always be counted on to help out. 

In the early hours of this Tuesday morning, Melinda Gippe Andrus lost her battle to cancer.  Over the past 33 years, since I started Camp Good Days and Special Times, following the diagnosis of my youngest daughter, Teddi, with a malignant brain tumor, I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to meet some extraordinary people.  People of all ages, who in small ways and big ways, have had an impact on my life and I like to believe that each one of them has left me with something that has helped me to become the person I am today. 

Des Stone, the former Editor of the Democrat & Chronicle’s Editorial Page once described Camp Good Days as a place where the human spirit soars and a place that brings out the very best in mankind. 

Some of those that truly exemplify the very best in mankind are the children I have met who are forced to grow up and become adults much too quickly.  No child age nine, ten, 12 or 13 should have to come face to face with their own mortality.  One of the cruelest parts of being a child diagnosed with cancer is that it robs the child of that very special time in all of our lives called childhood.  That time when you have a sense of invincibility and feel like you will live forever.

Melinda, affectionately known as Mel, was one of the young people I have been blessed to know and she first came into my life 25 years ago when she was originally diagnosed with cancer at the age of 13.  Mel came to Camp Good Days first as a camper and stayed as a volunteer.  She carried her battle with cancer throughout her life, with some obvious physical and visible signs and when she looked in the mirror or met new people, everyone could tell that she had gone through a difficult experience and some challenges.  However, Mel never let cancer define who she was.  She finished high school and went on to college.  She passed her nursing boards and worked as a nurse at Strong Memorial Hospital, working her way up to being a supervising nurse.  She married an exceptional gentleman who became her life partner and best friend.  Despite all that was going on in her life, Mel always found time to care for others.  I was always so impressed with her many accomplishments so when we had an opening on the Camp Good Days’ Board of Director’s I invited Mel to serve.  Not only was she an involved and active member of the Board, she continued to volunteer at the many sessions of our Women’s Oncology Program, bringing her love of jewelry-making and spending the day with the women teaching them how to make beautiful earrings, necklaces and bracelets, and she brought all of her own materials and supplies for them to use.

Mel was someone who was my hero.  No matter how bad or challenging of a day I had, when I was with her, she always made me feel better, and I am confident she had that effect on all those she came into contact with.  She truly helped you to look at things and keep them all in the proper perspective. 

This past February, Mel’s cancer returned with a vengeance and this past week SHE made the decision to stop the treatment and have hospice care in her home.  I was honored that her husband called me on Monday and asked if I would visit her that afternoon.  I am so grateful I was able to do that and that I had the chance to hold hands, one more time, with this gentle and extraordinary young lady, the day before she left this world. 

Melinda will never know how she touched so, so many lives through being an inspiration for others by the way she handled the difficult hand in life she was dealt, through her work as a nurse, and through her giving spirit as a volunteer.  She impacted my life so much and I will carry our friendship and those things we shared with me all the days of my life.  Our community and our Camp Good Days’ family has lost a shining star and I have lost a very special angel. 

I ask that each of you keep Judge Bonadio and Melinda’s families and friends, as well as all of the children, families, and volunteers who are a part of Camp Good Days in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Update

Where does the time go?  It is so hard to believe that we are in mid-August already and that the summer residential camping programs, here at Camp Good Days, are winding down in the next couple of weeks.  So much has happened this summer and so much is still yet to come, but the time just seems to be going faster and faster.

I am happy to report that we have had an amazing summer, thus far, and hundreds of campers have had the opportunity to experience the magic and spirit of Camp Good Days, firsthand.  We just completed the annual Doing A World Of Good Program, which is for children with cancer from countries around the world who come for two weeks and are joined by two different groups of children with cancer from the United States, each group coming for one week.  This summer, we welcomed campers and chaperones from Mexico, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos, Germany, Ethiopia, Czech Republic and Slovakia.  We also had a group of young people with cancer from Central Florida join us.  Our international campers and chaperones had an amazing two weeks at Camp Good Days, as did the campers from the United States.  A few of the highlights included a visit from the Rochester Rhinos Soccer Team; a visit from the New York State Police Helicopter and the New York State Police K9 Unit; and visits from the Rochester Police Department’s Mounted Patrol and Scuba Units.

On Wednesday, July 25, 2012, we hosted our Annual Summer Open House and we were so thrilled that New York State Lieutenant Governor, Robert Duffy, along with his wife Barb; as well as Joseph D’Amico, Superintendant of the New York State Police, and his wife, Judy; New York State Police Captain, Michael Cerretto and his wife, Lisa; Craig Doran, Administrative Judge for  the Seventh Judicial District of New York; Monroe County District Attorney, Sandra Doorley; Yates County District Attorney, Jason Cook; Pediatric Oncologist, Dr. David Korones; as well as my good friends, Steve & Patty DiGennaro and many, many others, took the time out of their busy schedules to visit and spend some time getting to know the campers and volunteers.  Lieutenant Governor Duffy surprised us all when he presented us with a very special Citation on behalf of New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo.

On Friday, July 27, 2012, our international campers and chaperones came to the Camp Good Days’ Headquarters in Mendon, where we had a picnic dinner and a special welcome from Monroe County Executive, Maggie Brooks, and City of Rochester Deputy Mayor, Leonard Redon.  They both presented the group with Proclamations, on behalf of Monroe County and City of Rochester, and we are so thankful that they both took the time to come out and meet our guests.  Following the picnic, everyone headed to the Rochester Rhinos game at Sahlen’s Stadium, where the campers were excited to see the players they had met at Camp a few days before and we were all happy that the Rhinos won the game! 

For some of our campers from the Rochester area who were not participating in the Doing A World Of Good Program, we were once again invited to be the special guests of the Buffalo Bills Community Relations Department for Buffalo Bills Training Camp at St. John Fisher College.  The group of campers that attended last Thursday’s afternoon practice had a great time watching practice and playing in the interactive area, and were thrilled to have the chance to get autographs from some of their favorite players, including Ryan Fitzpatrick and Marcell Dareus.  Special thanks to Gretchen Geitter, Vice President of Community Relations, her staff, and the players, for making our campers’ visit to Buffalo Bills Training Camp one they will remember for a long time!

This week we have our younger campers who are participating in Teddi’s Team, which is for those children, ages 8-12, who are dealing with cancer.  So far the weather has been beautiful and the kids are having a great time.  Next week we will host Camp B&ST, which is for children, ages 8-17, who have lost a parent or sibling to cancer within the past three years.  Next weekend we will have the Brain Tumor Family Retreat, which is a weekend camping retreat for families wherein one member is dealing with a malignant brain tumor.

We will finish our residential camping programs for children with the Camp Good Days / Rochester City School District Leadership Program, which is for students from the Rochester City School District, who are making the transition from elementary school to middle school this coming September. The primary goal of this special program is to give the students an overall experience that includes a variety of social and educational activities and special guest interactions, which are designed to help prepare them for their Middle School and High School years and to provide them with some of the knowledge and tools they will need to successfully navigate their future.  During this program, which is a collaboration between the Camp Good Days’ Partners Against Violence Everywhere (PAVE) Initiative and the Rochester City School District, we like to have special guests, who are life models and leaders within our community to come and speak with the participants and share some of their experiences and words of wisdom and I am so happy that the US Marshal for the Western District of New York, Charles Salina; Monroe County District Attorney, Sandra Doorley; and Reverand Lawrence Hargrave from Asbury First United Methodist Church are all willing to take the time out of their busy schedules to visit the program and speak to the participants.

We also have a few more sessions of the Women’s Oncology Program coming up later this month and in September.

While our camping programs are in full swing, much work continues on a variety of activities and events and it is really hard to imagine that the football season is about to get underway.  Plans are beginning to come together for this year’s COURAGE BOWL, the annual football game between the St. John Fisher College Cardinals and the University of Rochester Yellowjackets, to benefit the children and families at Camp Good Days, which will be played on Saturday, September 15, 2012 at Growney Stadium on the campus of St. John Fisher College, with kick-off slated for 7:00 PM. This year’s COURAGE BOWL will be the final showdown in the series between the Cardinals and the Yellowjackets, which promises to be thriller on the field, and we anticipate a sold-out stadium of students, alumni, families and fans.  We are excited to start the next chapter of the COURAGE BOWL when the Cardinals will face The College at Brockport Golden Eagles in future games.

As has been done with all previous COURAGE BOWL games, Camp Good Days will select six boys, all of whom are campers in Camp Good Days’ programs and are dealing with cancer, to serve as Honorary Coaches, three with each team.  The Honorary Coaches will attend a practice with their team the week of the game; will meet their team for the pre-game meal; be in the locker room with their team; lead their team on to the field; be at midfield for the coin toss; and coach from the sidelines during the game.  Camp Good Days will also select four girls, also campers who are dealing with cancer, to serve as Honorary Cheerleaders, two with each squad.  The Honorary Cheerleaders will attend practice with the squad the week of the game; meet the squad for pre-game preparation and cheer with the squad during the game.

To learn more about this year’s COURAGE BOWL, including how to support the event and get involved, check out the COURAGE BOWL page on our website,, or contact Laura Osborn at 585-624-5555 or 

We have had a couple of special fundraising events take place over the last few weeks, including the first annual Just Clowning Around 5K and Bocce Bash.  Both events were new for Camp Good Days and by all accounts the people who attended and participated had a great time and both events will help us to continue to be able to provide our programs and services free of charge for the participants.

We also have some special fundraising events coming up soon.  The Corey-Coffey Golf Classic will be held on Monday, August 20, 2012 at Penfield Country Club; the Friends of Ramon Santiago Golf Tournament is scheduled for Monday, August 27, 2012 at Midvale Country Club; and we are excited to be bringing back the Tour de Teddi Bike Ride on Saturday, September 29, 2012, around Keuka Lake. 

For those of you in the Central New York area, the Dr. John L. Dadey Memorial Golf Tournament will take place on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at Drumlins Country Club and for those of you in the Western New York area, the Fashion Show will be held on Sunday, September 23, 2012 at Salvatore’s.

For more information and details about all of the upcoming events and activities, be sure to check out our website, and be sure to like us on facebook, 

In regards to CANCER MISSION 2020, we are working now on the final draft of the initial plan, which will be the first step in addressing cancer in Monroe County, where cancer is now the leading cause of death.  We look forward to officially presenting the plan this fall and to sharing that with all of you.  Please be sure to check out, sign the petition, and share the site with your contacts. We need everyone’s help and support in order to reach our goal of ending cancer by the end of the decade. 

Last, but certainly not least, Camp Good Days has been blessed over the years to have many, many special friends and supporters who go above and beyond to help make all that we do possible.  Two of those friends are Jay and Jay Jay Vanderstyne of Vanderstyne Toyota. For the second year in a row, Vanderstyne Toyota, with support from Toyota Motor Company, is making it possible for us to hold the Camp Good Days’ Car Raffle! 

Every single dollar raised through the sale of raffle tickets will enable us to provide some good days and special times for some children and families in our community who need them the most!

The prize is a 2012 Toyota Corolla-S Model, featuring sunroof, cruise control, Bluetooth, power windows, and power locks, performance and fuel efficiency, plus an impressive list of safety features.  Tickets for the Camp Good Days’ Car Raffle are only $25.00 each and may be purchased by contacting Camp Good Days at 585-624-5555 or 800-785-2135 or online at  Tickets may be purchased using cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover.  The prize winner must be at least 18 years of age. The drawing will take place on New Year’s Eve, Monday, December 31, 2012. 

Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to not only win a brand new car, but to help support the many children and families at Camp Good Days!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer in Full Swing!

Forgive me not being as good about these blog updates as I would like to be, but after reading this, you will understand how crazy things are here.  One only has to step outside to realize that we are truly into the summer season and here at Camp Good Days we are busy with a lot of special events, activities and our residential camping programs. 

A couple of weeks ago, on Wednesday, June 27th, which would have been my daughter Teddi’s birthday, we hosted “Life, Cancer, and the NFL…An Evening with NY Giants’ Mark Herzlich” at the Rochester Plaza.  As I shared previously, we had to really live by our motto of adapt and adjust, as Mark was originally scheduled to be in Rochester on June 5th as the Special Guest for our Tournament of Love golf tournament, but was required to be at mandatory practices that week.  Mark wanted to honor his commitment to the children and families at Camp Good Days and although we had minimal time to plan, promote, and prepare, I am pleased to report that the event came together and exceeded all of our expectations.  A very special thank you to The Flanders Group, ESL Federal Credit Union, and the Democrat & Chronicle for their sponsorship and support of this special evening! 

The more than 200 guests in attendance had a fantastic, laid-back evening with stadium-style foods served for dinner and had the chance to hear from Mark about his life, his battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma and his courage and determination to not only defeat cancer but to make it into the NFL and win the Super Bowl as a member of the NY Giants.  Guests also had the opportunity to ask Mark questions and he went above and beyond in taking the time to answer questions, sign autographs, and take photographs.  Mark also spent some time prior to the dinner with some of the campers who have served as Honorary Coaches with the St. John Fisher College Cardinals and the University of Rochester Yellowjackets for the Annual Courage Bowl.  He talked to them one-on-one about his battle with cancer, playing football in college, playing in the NFL and going to the Super Bowl.  I am sure that the experience made some great memories that these campers will carry with them for a long time.  Save the date… the Eighth Annual Camp Good Days’ COURAGE BOWL will take place on Saturday, September 15, 2012.  We are bringing the COURAGE BOWL back to Growney Stadium on the campus of St. John Fisher College, where the Cardinals will take on the University of Rochester Yellowjackets for one more game and this is one you won’t want to miss!  Following this year’s COURAGE BOWL, the Cardinals will face a new opponent in future COURAGE BOWL games.

Our Junior Good Days program also took place from Tuesday, June 26, 2012 through Friday, June 29, 2012, both in the Rochester and Syracuse areas.  This program is for those children, ages 4-7 that are still too young to attend residential camp.  The highlight of the program came on Friday, June 29, 2012 when all of the Junior Good Days’ campers and volunteers from Rochester and Syracuse spent the day at the Camp Good Days’ Recreational Facility on Keuka Lake, and got to have a little taste of what “big” camp is all about.

This past Thursday through Saturday, we held the Women’s Wellness I Program.  It was a great program and a great group of women, many of them new to Camp Good Days.  They had the opportunity to be pampered and take the time to relax and rejuvenate, with some of the only people in the world who can truly understand what they are going through – other women with cancer.  The participants were able to take advantage of a variety of activities during the program including: massages, manicures, creating their own her garden, making jewelry, water yoga, boat rides, fishing, clay projects, and more.  On Friday evening, my good friend and Camp Good Days’ volunteer, Dolly Malik, provided an instructional session on mindfulness and relaxation techniques.  The program concluded with the very special Closing Ceremony, held in the beautiful Outdoor Chapel Area.  Sister Fran Quinn conducted the Closing Ceremony, as she always does, but my heart went out to her as she no longer has Father David Ambuske – her partner in these special Camp Good Days’ services.  We all miss Father Dave very much but I know that his spirit and memory will live on through the children and families at Camp Good Days.

On Saturday night, Wendy and I, along with her Dad, went to the Rochester Rhinos game and it was great to see them win for the second time in a week.  Hopefully they are back on a winning streak now!  If you are at a Rochester Rhinos game, you can visit us inside Gate D at the Quarters for Cancer table, or if you would like to help out with Quarters for Cancer, email Laura at  On Sunday, we went to see Wendy’s Grandma and celebrate her 95th Birthday – what a milestone!

Our first full week of summer residential programs for children started this Monday.  We have a full program for Childhood USA I, which is for children ages 8-12 who have a parent or sibling who has been diagnosed with cancer or sickle cell anemia within the past three years, and/or is actively undergoing treatment.  Next week, we will welcome a second full group of campers for Childhood USA II, which is similar to this week’s program, but for children ages 13-17.  In the coming weeks we will welcome campers for the Doing A World Of Good Program and we are so excited that some of our friends from countries around the world, such as Mexico, the Bahamas, Ethiopia, Germany, Turks & Caicos, and Dominican Republic will be able to join us again this year and we look forward to meeting new campers and chaperones from the Czech Republic!  Special thanks to Dr. Lubos Barta, who served as a Judge for the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and has been instrumental in helping to make it possible for some children dealing with cancer from the Czech Republic to be able to attend the Doing A World Of Good Program this summer.

We also have a number of special fundraising events coming up, all of which help us to continue providing our programs and services free of charge for the participants.  More than 200 people are registered to take part in the Just Clowning Around 5K, which is taking place this Saturday, July 14, 2012 in Mendon.  Be sure to follow the event on facebook and twitter, as the participants will each receive a clown wig to wear during the event and the photos are sure to be great!  In the coming weeks and months we will also be hosting a Bocce Bash, with Valenti Sports and on Saturday, August 4, 2012; the Corey Coffey Golf Classic on Monday, August 20, 2012; the Friends of Ramon Santiago will host their golf tournament on Monday, August 27, 2012, from which proceeds benefit the Arts & Crafts area at Camp Good Days; and we will be bringing back the Tour de Teddi Bike Ride on Saturday, September 29, 2012.      For more information about any of our upcoming events, to learn how you can get involved as a participant, sponsor, supporter, or volunteer, check out our website, and become our fan on facebook, 

On the CANCER MISSION 2020 front, we are making progress in the plan for addressing cancer in Monroe County, where cancer is now the leading cause of death.  We will be meeting with the committee to review that plan on Monday, July 16, 2012 and we look forward to sharing the final plan with all of you very soon!  Don’t forget to check out, sign the petition, and share the site with your contacts.  It is a simple task that will only take a few moments of your time, but in the end, will make a world of difference!