Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Courage Classic & November at CGD

November has flown by, here at Camp Good Days. What a special month it was… We kicked off November with Courage Classic II. Camp Good Days has been fortunate to partner with two of the most prestigious NCAA Hockey teams in the country, Cornell University and Colgate University.

Courage Classic has proven to be an extremely special opportunity for the campers at Camp Good Days. Courage Classic is loosely based on The Courage Bowl, a tradition we started here in Rochester 11 years ago. We started Courage Bowl to give children who couldn’t participate in sports at the collegiate athletics due to their cancer or sickle cell anemia, the chance to be a part of a college football team. Courage Classic has been a tremendous event two years in a row, and I couldn’t be happier with the relationships our campers have been able to forge with the players and coaches on both teams.

The week kicked off with our campers each attending a practice with their respective teams, getting tours of the locker room, being on the ice and shooting on goalies, and finished with a pizza party. Each of our Honorary Captains were presented signed jerseys from both teams, a keepsake they’ll be able to wear for a long time.

On game-day, Lynah Rink was packed to capacity with over 4,200 fans and our kids had the chance to be a part of the ceremonial puck drop prior to the game. The kids were met at the tunnel by each team’s captains, skated to center ice, and, after the puck drop, each team skated over to high five our Honorary Captains.

This will be an experience for those that have participated will never forget. For me, the lasting memory I will have is the picture of Coach Shafer, of Cornell University, with Brody, one of our Honorary Captains, after the game. Brody and his family will have this memory forever. With all the negativity that is going on in the world, those at Lynah Rink had a chance to see the human spirit soar. Thank you to both Cornell and Colgate Hockey Teams.

After Courage Classic, I traveled to Turning Stone Resort where I was honored to be the Keynote Speaker at Campgrounds Owners of New York’s (CONY) Annual Conference.

CONY has been a true friend to Camp Good Days since 2012. There are almost 300 CONY Campgrounds throughout the state. I was pleased to have the opportunity to personally say thank you to all the campground owners for their continued support. Since kicking off their efforts to raise money for Camp Good Days, our friends at CONY have generated nearly $250,000.

What inspires me most about the CONY owners is their work ethic. They are so driven and have truly dedicated themselves to raising funds and awareness for Camp Good Days. I am so grateful for their friendship. This year alone, CONY was able to raise $91,000 for CGD. This is a great gift to all of our children and families right before the Holiday Season.

I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, and will write again before the Holidays.

Monday, November 16, 2015

C.O.C.A. Conference

As the Chairman & Founder of Camp Good Days, I have had the privilege of meeting some amazing individuals and speaking at various different conventions. Last weekend, I spoke to an audience I felt compelled to write about. For the first time in far too long, I reconnected with Children’s Oncology Camping Association (C.O.C.A.) at their International Conference that took place in Niagara Falls, Ontario. With the company of a few members of our staff, we spent a few days interacting and networking with other camps from around the world.

C.O.C.A. is an organization that is very near and dear to my heart. In 1982, C.O.C.A., Children's Oncology Camps of America was founded by a dozen pioneer oncology camps. The personnel from these twelve camps found the lives of children with cancer were immeasurably enhanced by camping. Noting their similar experiences, these visionary souls believed a forum should be created to share their ideas and experiences. That forum known as C.O.C.A. currently consists of over 65 member camps from within the United States.

One of my most fond memories of C.O.C.A. was when we hosted the Annual C.O.C.A.-I Conference in Rochester, NY in November of 1990. Much like when we hosted in 1990, this conference reminded me of why I had helped to start C.O.C.A. It was great to reconnect with some old friends, and share information and stories. It was truly a nice opportunity to see how much C.O.C.A. has grown for children and families battling cancer.

Lastly, it was an honor to speak to the audience about Cancer Mission 2020, an initiative of Camp Good Days to make cancer a chronic illness by 2020, where one can still maintain a decent quality of life. The main point of emphasis that I touched on was the importance of clinical trials. Clinical trials are where the answers to cancer are going to come from.

As we approach the Holidays and are gearing up to send Holiday cards, we’d ask that you make Cancer Mission 2020 a part of your traditions this year. Have your family sign the petition, share it with your friends on Facebook. What better gift could you give than helping us find the answers to cancer?