Friday, January 29, 2016

Scott Norwood & The Teddi Dance for Love

It is hard to believe that it was 25 years ago that the Buffalo Bills played in one of the closest games in Super Bowl history and Scott Norwood missed the kick, far right.  It is also hard to believe that many people don't know more about Scott and the fact that he was not only a good kicker, with a great NFL career, but he is a fantastic person and someone who has always loved and supported the children we serve at Camp Good Days and Special Times. 

When he was with the Bills, Scott started the Kicking for Kids program in which donations were made for every successful field goal, to benefit Camp Good Days.  That program was carried on by Steve Christie, who had never even met Scott, but had great respect for him, and still goes on today.  Scott has taken the time to visit the Camp Good Days' Recreational Facility to personally spend time with the campers and volunteers, and one year, during our Doing A World Of Good Program, for children with cancer from countries around the world, he helped to make it possible for them to attend a Bills' game, helping to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of them.  Scott also has taken the time of his schedule to attend the Camp Good Days' Tournament of Love Golf Tournament many, many times over the years. 

One of the most memorable visits that Scott made though, was to attend the Teddi Dance for Love at St. John Fisher College.  The 34th Annual Teddi Dance for Love is taking place tonight, starting at 8PM through tomorrow night at 8PM, at St. John Fisher College, and it was 25 years ago, shortly after that fateful Super Bowl, that Scott went above and beyond.  The students that year, given all the excitement about the Bills, wanted to have someone from the team attend the Dance for Love and speak to the dancers.  I asked Scott if he would be willing to come and to his credit, he said yes, and he came to Rochester that weekend and attended the event, and spoke to the dancers and volunteers about how much their efforts, support and generosity, meant to the children of Camp Good Days.  There are not many people, being in the situation and spotlight that he was in at that time, who would have agreed to that request. 

Following that Super Bowl, Scott never backed away from what had happened and in fact, answered all of the reporters' questions that night; and you will never find a teammate of Scott's who will point their finger at him or have anything negative to say about him.  Scott was a good kicker, but more importantly, he is a great person, a great husband and father, and a true first-class human being.  He is someone that I am pleased to consider a friend and someone I am forever grateful to for his generous support of the children and families we serve.  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Moonshot Mission

As many of you know, our motto here at Camp Good Days is “adapt and adjust”, and with that in mind, that is why I am posting again today.  In Tuesday’s night State of the Union Address, President Obama talked about “Moonshot” and the effort to try and find the answers to cancer.  He stated, “For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. What do you think? Let’s make it happen.”  And he shared that he has tasked Vice President Biden with leading this mission. 

I am so pleased and so excited that our leader has finally chosen someone to lead this effort, and in Vice President Biden, I have so much hope because I believe that he will take this task very seriously, and dedicate the necessary time and energy, given his personal, and so recent experience within his own family, with the battle his son endured and ultimately succumbed to.  I hope that we can look at 2016 as the year when we all took a giant step forward in finding the answers that all of us involved with Cancer Mission 2020 have been seeking and working towards. 

It is somewhat ironic, and somewhat full-circle, that Cancer Mission 2020 launched in 2009, following President Obama’s first State of the Union Address in which he said that cancer is a disease that touches all of us and we can defeat cancer in our lifetime.  I have been waiting such a long time to have a President use his bully pulpit to address cancer in this country.  Cancer is not a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Conservative, Liberal, or Tea Party issue – it is a people issue. 

Cancer touches all of us.  11,000 Americans die each week from cancer. That’s unacceptable. What’s worse is that these people do not live in a vacuum. They’re our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends, or in my case, my child, Teddi.  It is as if one of the Twin Towers is falling every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

It is pretty hard to understand how we, as a country, have given a blank check to protecting the homeland – to the tune of some 2-3 Trillion Dollars – but if you asked someone if they were more afraid of being attacked by a terrorist or going to the doctor and walking out with a diagnosis of cancer, I would venture to say that cancer is the bigger fear.  And it is no surprise that people are in fear of cancer.  If you are a woman, you have a one in three chance of being diagnosed with cancer, and if you’re a man, the chances are one in two, in your lifetime.  Those are NOT very great odds. 

We all need to commit ourselves to do what we can to help Vice President Biden in his mission and to find the answers to cancer so that we can one day be a country that doesn’t have to live in fear of a cancer diagnosis. 

Here at Camp Good Days, we continue to collect signatures on our Cancer Mission 2020 Petition, which supports clinical trials, as clinical trials are where the answers are going to come from.  If you have not visited our Cancer Mission 2020 website,, I encourage you to do so, and to sign our petition, and then share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers.  Join us, and join Vice President Biden, to let everyone know that we want finding the answers to cancer put on the front burner, so that we can all, as Americans, be rid of the fear of cancer and truly enjoy good days and special times!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Reflections for the New Year

Here we are, another New Year.  The New Year always brings with it the need to plan for the coming year, but this one also brings the realization that time goes so quickly and things happen every day, things we don’t expect but are forced to deal with and which make us think and reflect.

On New Year’s Eve, I went to the cemetery to visit Teddi, and when I got there, a woman was sitting close to Teddi’s grave, at a new gravesite, obviously very sad and troubled.  I couldn’t help but notice her and had to go talk to her.   When I asked who she was visiting, she said her daughter, who had died from an overdose.  I gave her my condolences and shared that I was also there to visit my daughter.  I only spent a few minutes with her, as she needed her time with her daughter and I needed mine, but when I went to leave, she was gone.  She never made a sound, but I can only hope that I helped her in some small way and that a small act of kindness helped to make her day just a little bit more bearable.  
One never knows the impact that we might have on someone else’s life and we may never realize, until much later, the impact that someone else has on our life.  I recently saw in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that Mrs. Letha Ridley had passed away, at the age of 104.  All of a sudden I was taken back many years ago when I was just starting out on my career.  I was substitute teaching in the Rochester City School District and I was looking for a way in which to get more hours and more money and I learned of a few schools that needed subs and one of those was School #20, where Mrs. Ridley, a true pioneer, was the Principal. I was fortunate enough to be able to sub in that school and I learned so much from her.  Looking back, those were such difficult times in the Rochester area, as it was the late 60’s and early 70’s. She was a very tiny, African-American woman but she was strong and tall in her commitment to the children and their education.  She was in a very unique position, as that school was in the heart of the city, but inside those walls, she said the most important thing for the teachers was to set high expectations and educate their students and to then help the children reach those expectations.  If the teachers strived for those goals, she would always have their back, no matter what.  I was able to spend a lot of time with Mrs. Ridley, asking her questions and learning from her, which helped me to become the person I am.

As life goes, I moved on in my life and career and we lost touch, but when I saw the article about her passing, I went back through my archives and found the reference letter she wrote for me; one that I have saved all these years because it meant so much to me.  She truly helped to shape the person I am today, and helped to create the person who is so devoted and committed to making a difference in the lives of our youth, and especially those who are facing some of life’s most difficult battles, through no fault of their own.    

Here we are, Camp Good Days is in its 37th year and going strong because of the continual support of so many and although we fight every day to find the answers to cancer, we still recognize and are dedicated to fulfilling the need for so many dealing with this horrible disease.
As we all take some time to reflect, I resolve this year to not rush and to appreciate each and every single day; to take the time to always practice kindness and gratitude, for those I know and those I don’t know…because you never know how you might impact someone’s life.