We had our 20th Annual Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition in July and this year, we really had to follow our motto of “adapt and adjust.” When we were confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to rethink the whole competition. We still had a lot of entries that had been sent in and we knew we needed to do something. We met with our committee which included our Head Judge, Bob Madill; our Flighting and Results Manager, Teresa Knapp; and our Director of Special Events & Fundraising, Jamie Varble, and came up with some changes. We determined that since we weren’t having the residential summer programs and we couldn’t host the competition at our usual location of the Holiday Inn in Downtown Rochester, we could host the competition down at our recreational facility on Keuka Lake. We had to move the competition from April to July, the judges who were normally asked to participate could not travel out of country or across certain states, and we had to change the format of the competition. There was great cooperation between our staff, judges and volunteers. While there were not as many judges present and not as many wines and spirits entered, we had to marvel at how much support we received.
When we first started the FLIWC, we started it for two reasons. At the time, there were a lot of wineries popping up in the Finger Lakes and many of them felt that their quality wine was not being recognized. Thanks in part, to the competition, the Finger Lakes wines have received more recognition and are more readily recommended by wine professionals and wine enthusiasts. This year, having the competition hosted at our facility on Keuka Lake brought the competition to the heart of the Finger Lakes and emphasized why the competition was started in the first place. By having it at the facility, the judges were able to see what Camp Good Days was all about. A picture is worth 1,000 words but being there in person is even more impactful. It is a great credit to our staff, volunteers and judges that we were able to make it happen.
This was the 37th year for our annual golf tournament, the Tournament of Love. For the past 15 years, we have been able to host the tournament at Monroe Golf Club. Originally, the tournament was supposed to be held in May and was then rescheduled to August. There were many changes made to accommodate social distancing guidelines including getting rid of the dinner and award portion of the tournament, staggered tee off times, and boxed lunches. Rather than a dinner, we had hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and the clams that are such a hit every year. For me, it was nice to be home around 6:30PM rather than 10PM and I am sure the golfers appreciated the shortened program as well. We will make less money from the tournament this year, and we had less golfers than normal, but we were able to put on a world-class tournament during a difficult time, and we are very proud of that.
The Buffalo Gala, which is one of our largest fundraisers in Buffalo, was scheduled for April at the Hyatt. We were unable to hold the event in person and so we made the decision to move the event to an online auction. The generous sponsors agreed to let us keep their pledges and we were able to generate a good amount of money through the online auction.
Camp Good Days does a lot to help children and families impacted by cancer and sickle cell anemia, and all the programs and services are provided free of charge. These programs cost money, some are very expensive, and even though we are not having the in-person programs this year, we hopefully will be able do so next year. These fundraisers have become key factors in us raising the money to fund these programs and services. Despite all of the challenges and the uncertainties that have been presented to us, we have a group of people who all have a common passion and goal, who rose to the occasion to adapt and adjust to raise money for Camp Good Days.
To make sure that we are still doing as much as we can to help the children and families who need us, we adapted and adjusted our summer programs. We were unable to have the camping programs, so our Junior Good Days program was made into a virtual program, and we will also be having two weeks of virtual programming for the rest of our young campers coming up later this month. This time can be very isolating for our campers and we are trying to do everything in our power to help them know that they are not alone and that their Camp Good Days family is there for them. As I said earlier, “Cancer doesn’t stop during a pandemic and neither do we.”