Children with cancer want to do all the fun things that healthy children do – exploring the outdoors, swimming, hiking, fishing, playing games, singing around the campfire, creating arts and crafts, playing ball, and more.
For the past 31 years, the American Cancer Society and its generous donors have made those wishes a reality at Camp Hope – a camp for kids with cancer held annually at Camp Aldrich near Great Bend. This year, 78 campers and 97 volunteers are attending camp, which began on Sunday, June 16 and runs through this Saturday, June 22.
“It is the mission of Camp Hope to provide a normal, active, and safe camp experience where children can celebrate life while living with, through, and beyond the diagnosis of cancer,” explained Stephanie Weiter, Camp Hope staffer and regional vice president of the Society in Kansas. Camp Hope is open to children ages seven to 17 years, who have or have had cancer.
Weiter said that medical personnel are available around the clock to administer routine chemotherapy, arrange for blood counts, handle any medical emergencies, and adjust any programs to the campers’ needs. Campers attend free of charge.
Nationwide, the Society will be transitioning its children’s camps to other organizations by the end of 2013, Weiter said. “We are proud of how far we’ve come in the fight against cancer, but we are not satisfied with our incremental advances. We need to finish the fight and save even more lives from cancer. In light of a challenging economy that has put increased pressure on our limited resources, we must focus those limited resources on strategies that we know will reach more people and save more lives faster.”
“Personally, I have had the honor and privilege of staffing Camp Hope for the past 21 years and have watched many children grow up and survive their diagnosis,” Weiter said. “I have been deeply impacted by those children that did not survive. I want nothing more than to find a cure for this dreaded disease and look forward to the day when no child has to hear the words, “You have cancer.” The changes we are making will expedite our efforts to save more lives.”
Thus, the Society in Kansas is pleased to announce that Camp Hope will be transferred as of Aug. 1 to a local Kansas organization – Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation Inc.
Kans for Kids, non-profit organization in Hoisington, was founded in 1994 by two children, Sarah, 11, and Shane Reif, 8. The two began recycling aluminum cans in an effort to raise funds for their nine-month-old cousin, who had been diagnosed with cancer. The project caught on quickly and has grown by leaps and bounds to provide both financial and emotional support to any child in Barton County, Kan., 18-years of age or younger, who has been diagnosed with cancer. What started with a single aluminum can has grown to include many fund-raisers, including the annual Eagle Radio / Kans for Kids Radiothon. Twenty-eight children and their families have been assisted by Kans for Kids over the past 19 years.
“We are thrilled to take on Camp Hope,” said Debbie Reif, Sarah and Shane’s mother who serves as director of Kans for Kids with her husband Duane. “We have very much wanted an opportunity to do something for all of the children of Kansas who have had or currently have cancer. This is the opportunity we’ve hoped and prayed for.” Kans for Kids is working closely with the Society to make the transition as smooth as possible and will begin working with the Camp Hope Committee in August to plan for Camp Hope 2014.”
“We want to thank the Society for giving us this opportunity,” Duane said.
The Reifs also give thanks to Gail Moeder, Kans for Kids board member and a member of the Camp Hope Committee. “Gail’s dedication to the kids and to Camp Hope is phenomenal,” Debbie said. “She has been very instrumental in helping us with this new endeavor for Kans for Kids.”
For information about Kans for Kids and Camp Hope 2014, please contact Kans for Kids via their website at http://kans4kidsfoundation.org.
The American Cancer Society remains steadfastly committed to the fight against childhood cancer and all cancers, Weiter said. The Society supports children and adults with cancer in a number of ways, including services to help them navigate through their cancer experience and overcome barriers to successfully completing their treatment.
In addition, the Society is currently funding 48 grants for childhood cancer research, to find the answers that will help save lives from pediatric cancer. For cancer information anytime day or night, call 800.ACS.2345 or visit cancer.org.