Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Bat McGrath: A Dear Friend to Camp Good Days

I hope that everyone had a great holiday and that you all had the chance to enjoy and spend time with your families.  I am very excited for 2019, because we are celebrating Camp Good Days’ 40th anniversary.  I have said many times on this blog that what made Camp Good Days the organization it is today are the hundreds of special people that have come into my life over the years and helped Camp Good Days.

One of those very special people is Bat McGrath, and I was taken aback when I heard recently that he had been diagnosed with cancer.  I first met Bat McGrath when Camp Good Days was celebrating its 35th anniversary.  We were thinking of what we could do to celebrate, and the idea was brought up to have a concert where music artists, who had their roots in Rochester, would come and perform.  Bat McGrath was the first person suggested in the discussion.  Unfortunately, before the plans were put into effect, there was a devastating flood that swept through the lower part of Camp Good Days’ recreational facility on Keuka Lake, which caused almost half a million dollars in damages.  The flood became our priority since we wanted to try and get the camp repaired before our children’s programs started in July.  The community responded and we were able to open for our programs in July.  Unfortunately, we had to cancel our weekend programs leading up to July, but we were able to reschedule them in the fall before we closed camp down for the winter.  

Bat, who sometimes makes several appearances in the Finger Lakes area, decided to visit camp on his own before heading back home to Nashville, Tennessee.  When he got back to Nashville he felt compelled to write a song about Camp Good Days.  When I received the song, I was absolutely blown away, it was beautiful.  I was so excited,that I played the song for all of our staff at our following staff meeting.  I asked Bat if there was any way that he could play the song at camp when he was up in the Finger Lakes area for the summer. He was able to visit during the weekend of our international program with his wife, and play the song for our campers, staff, and volunteers.  While some of our campers did not understand what he was saying, every time he said “Camp Good Days,” they cheered.  It was a very special concert and we were very grateful for him taking the time to bring smiles to our campers’ faces.  When I was thanking him after the concert, he said that what would make it even more special would be if there was a video to go with it.  I was unsure of who to contact to make the video, and he said he would ask some of his friends who were in video production to make it.  A little while later, when I was invited to see the video for the first time, I got very emotional.  Without my knowing, they had placed in the video, clips of Teddi, and it was a wonderful surprise for me to see them.  Since then, the DVD of the song and video has been played hundreds of times at our events, camping programs, and presentations.  The entire project didn’t cost Camp Good Days anything, and it is one of the most generous gifts we have ever received.  If you haven’t seen the video, here is the link on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biQWpUcRvbY.

It is crazy to me that it is 2019, and we are still having situations like this one with Bat McGrath, where he was otherwise healthy and then finds out he has cancer.  I don’t understand why the government is so focused on arguing over a wall, and having a government shutdown, when that time and effort could be going to something that is affecting every single American whether directly or indirectly.  We need to find a way to end this disease.  One out of every three women and one out of every two men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.  Cancer in the United States is like one of the Twin Towers is falling every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For everyone in the United States under 80 years old, cancer is the leading cause of death. Despite the progress we have made, there are still so many people being diagnosed with this disease, and the treatments are still very intense and hard on the patients.  Our government needs to put money and effort into finding the answers.

I ask all of you to keep Bat McGrath and the hundreds of thousands of people who will be diagnosed with cancer this year, in your thoughts.  Hopefully, 2019 will bring in new changes and information in regards to finding the answers to cancer.