The Funsize Blog

MAKE THE MAGIC

Make sure you check out Make the Magic.

Make the Magic is an annual charity dinner held to raise awareness of Camp Kesem in the Miami area.

This year, Make the Magic will be held on March 22, 2015 at SAC Center Ballrooms (1330 Miller Drive, Coral Gables, FL, 33146). We cordially invite you to Make the Magic 2015!

Susan’s Magic Makers 2014

DSC_5636Camp Kesem cordially invites you to our 3rd Annual Susan’s Magic Makers on September 20, 2014 in Santa Monica, CA!  Join us for an evening of philanthropy and campfire coziness on the Santa Monica beach.  Inspired by the example of Susan Nelson Fleiss and honoring the Holt Brothers Foundation, this event honors visionaries who have turned the tragedy of cancer diagnosis into triumph and are bettering the lives of those affected by cancer. All proceeds benefit the Susan Nelson Fleiss Memorial Fund at Camp Kesem, ensuring the organization’s ability to bring Camp Kesem programming to more of the 3 million children affected by a parent’s cancer.

To purchase tickets or to make a donation in lieu of attending, please click here.

For more information and to learn about sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.susansmagicmakers.org.

 

Camp Kesem Michigan Spring Reunion Recap

It was so great seeing everyone who came out for our Spring Reunion and Family Info Session at our home-base in Fenton this past Sunday! The day started out with a rousing game of elbow tag in the Camp Copneconic Lodge (where Ducky got her workout in)! Campers then got to enjoy three of Camp Copneconic’s awesome activities – Gaga, Archery, and the Reptile House! Campers and counselors old and new had a great time catching up, dodging balls, shooting arrows, and checking out some cool creatures on our favorite campgrounds! The Camp’s new health and wellness center has been finished and looks great too! We are very thankful for the partnership we have created with the staff at Camp Copneconic as it has allowed us to get a taste of camp before the summer, and enjoy a reunion with our campers at the scene of the magic! Parents- if you couldn’t make it and/or missed any info, don’t worry! Visit our website, view a sample schedule for a day at camp here, or email any questions or concerns to michigan.outreach@campkesem.org. For those of you who did make it, we hope you had as much fun as we did, and we can’t wait to reunite with even more of our CK family soon!

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Veritas Prep Camp Kesem Fundraiser

Are you applying to graduate business programs? Do you want top quality preparation for the GMAT? Would you like to spread magic to families affected by cancer at the same time? If your answer is yes to those three questions, consider participating in the Veritas Prep Camp Kesem Fundraiser. Veritas Prep offers GMAT preparation through online and in person courses with their top notch instructors and proven material success. By registering for Veritas Prep GMAT classes, half of your registration fee will go towards providing a free week of camp for children with a parent affected by cancer.

For more information on the Veritas Prep Camp Kesem fundraiser and types of classes offered, please contact Dana Granadier at Michigan.Operations@campkesem.org

Camp Kesem Advisors

Interested in helping Camp Kesem Berkeley improve and grow?

We are always looking for local professionals to be our advisors to help guide us in making Camp Kesem Berkeley better each year. Being an advisor involves coming to an advisory board meeting twice a year where our coordinator team can ask questions related to their position, for example about fundraising or marketing strategies.

If you are interested please contact our Operations Coordinators at berkeley.operations@campkesem.org.

550 Relay!

550LOGO (1)550 Relay
June 21st – 25th, 2014

11 runners from all 50 states will participate in the largest marathon relay ever attempted – 5 Days, 50 States, 550 Runners. 150 marathons a day for 4 days in a row. 14,410 miles and a goal of $2.5 million to help those in their battle with cancer. This year, the 550 Relay will benefit both the LIVESTRONG Foundation and Camp Kesem! To sign up as a captain, runner, or intern, please visit www.550relay.com

Camp Kesem CEO Jane Saccaro Reflects on #GivingTuesday with Huffington Post

Jane “Pocket” Saccaro joined Camp Kesem as the Chief Executive Office in December 2010. Jane earned both a M.S. in Engineering-Economic Systems and a B.A. in Economics and Psychology from Stanford University. 

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Before taking on the role of Camp Kesem’s Chief Executive Officer, I spent 15 years working for corporations. And while I loved my work, I felt compelled to find a role with a larger social mission and impact that would truly make a difference. During my search, I learned about Camp Kesem, a unique organization that not only served an often-overlooked population — children affected by a parent’s cancer — but empowered college students to make a difference. As a mother, I was drawn to the mission. And as someone who has always valued leadership opportunities for young adults, I loved the method of how Camp Kesem achieved such great impact. I was hooked.

Seven weeks after I became Camp Kesem’s new CEO, my younger sister Susan was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer. She was just 35 years old, and her three young children — Teddy, then three, and 10-month-old twins Benji and Caroline — suddenly became Camp Kesem kids, and our organization’s mission really hit home. As I watched Susan fight her battle with this brutal disease, I gained an appreciation of why Camp Kesem’s work was so important. As a parent, all you want to do is protect, love and be there for your kids. And when you cannot do that, it is beyond powerless. As hard as Susan fought to be there for her kids, she did not win this battle and died just 11 weeks after her diagnosis. I still struggle with losing my best friend and confidante every day. So I do the only thing I know how to do. I honor Susan’s legacy by doing everything I can to bring support, comfort and love not only to her three children, but to the three million children who have or have had a parent with cancer.

And that is why today I feel so incredibly proud of this model we champion. Our incredible student leaders — our Big Kids — truly make a difference and build invaluable leadership skills by developing and managing every aspect of their Camp Kesem chapter. This year, for #GivingTuesday, we asked our student volunteers to take their social responsibility one step further. We asked them to encourage their fellow students, peers, faculty and members of their campus communities to also GIVE BACK by taking a photo in one of the 45 #BigKidsGive #GivingTuesday photo booths our student leaders set up on their campuses nationwide and then sharing that photo via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to spread that message even further. And it was a tremendous success!

Camp Kesem’s Big Kids took over Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with over 1,300 photos using the #BigKidsGive and #GivingTuesday hashtags. With the help of our student volunteers, celebrity supporters, and community leaders, our #GivingTuesday campaign helped raised approximately $10,000 in donations to send more kids to camp this summer. We are incredibly proud and applaud all of the young leaders in the world that have helped make #GivingTuesday a success not only for our organization, but for the thousands of others who are working towards improving the world we live in.

So much of the messaging we see at this time of year is about getting — gifts, presents, discounts and all manner of things. Yet in participating in Camp Kesem’s #BigKidsGive #GivingTuesday campaign, as well as #GivingTuesday’s #Unselfie campaign, college students all over the country have demonstrated the importance of GIVING BACK and thinking beyond ourselves. Furthermore, they have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate the true power of social media to bring attention to important causes and inspire collaborative action.

Today, there are over three million children affected by a parent’s cancer. Our goal is to continue to expand our programs until we can serve every one of those kids. This year, Camp Kesem expanded to 54 college chapters across the country, increasing the number of communities we serve by over 32 percent. With the help of nearly 1,500 college student volunteers, we served more than 2,800 children. And while our student leaders are giving back, they are developing real-world skills. 89 percent of Kesem students intend to continue philanthropic work after college. Our Big Kids embody what Camp Kesem is all about. Over 75 percent of the student leaders involved with Camp Kesem had cancer impact someone in their family, and by sharing their personal experiences, they are able to help kids like them in a profoundly unique way.

Camp Kesem was honored to be a #GivingTuesday partner this year and will continue being one for many years to come.

Why the Yus Support #GivingTuesday

For our last installment of our #GivingTuesday blog, we’ve asked one of our dear families, the Yus, from Los Angeles, CA to share why they support #GivingTuesday this year. The Yus have attended Camp Kesem at UCLA since 2005. Elena aka 1:07 is now a counselor at Camp Kesem at UCLA and Dara aka Bamboo is excited for yet another summer at camp! 

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My husband George was diagnosed in 2004 with a non-smoker’s lung cancer, Bronchio-Alveolar Carcinoma.  My daughters at the time were only three and nine years old. I was at such a loss as to how to support the girls and their understanding of cancer, as I was at a loss of understanding how to live each day with knowing he was dying.  He’d been given only 6-12 months to live.  I was struggling trying to search the internet for the best cures, doctors, and treatments.  Unfortunately, my daughters weren’t getting the support they greatly needed to understand what was happening to our family. Then, through the Simms Mann UCLA cancer therapy center, I was directed to Camp Kesem UCLA. It has truly been the best thing to come out of this tragedy we had to live through.

My older daughter, Elena (1:07 at camp) started attending the UCLA camp the first year it was offered in 2005.  She was extremely shy and the first year she attended, she only listened at cabin chat.  Most of the kids in her cabin had moms with breast cancer, so she didn’t feel comfortable talking about her dad.  But, over the next few years, she came to understand that she was in an extremely understanding, and loving community family, and started to speak more at cabin chat.  Over the years, Camp Kesem has given Elena the opportunity to contribute in many ways.  The summer after junior year of high school, Elena and another CK camper, Nicole spent hours meeting with counselors, talking to other camp kids, and working with Camp Kesem National to form a CIT program.  The program was rolled out the next summer, and Elena was able to continue with Camp Kesem.  After graduating from high school, Elena was accepted to UCLA where she is now a Camp Kesem counselor, and can give back to all the kids who are going through the same experience she had.

When George passed away in 2007, Dara (Bamboo at camp) was six, and Elena was thirteen.  They were actually on the way back from camp, when the hospice nurse told me that I couldn’t leave the house to pick them up. After a quick call, two Camp Kesem counselors dropped them back to the house, and were there to support the girls and our family when George died only fifteen minutes after the girls got home. We had a very large memorial a month later with over 600 participants.  But some of the most beloved attendees were the sixteen Camp Kesem counselors who came to support our family. It really was so amazing when I saw them walking up the ramp to join us.  They had put together special photo collages for the girls with pictures from camp.  Dara still has hers in her room on the shelf of special mementos.

Over the years, I’ve been extremely impressed that, in addition to helping kids and their families, the camp trains student leaders in marketing, fundraising, and development. They are given extensive training in how to deal with these very different and special situations that the young children are experiencing at home.  As the girls have grown, the counselors have made strong impressions on them in many ways.  We have known counselors through camp who have become inspirational in other parts of my daughter’s lives.  They have provided friendship, babysitters, cooking partners, inspiration through dance, and support at special events.  Camp Kesem counselors have been involved with every part of my daughters’ lives after their father passed away.  They are not just friends, they are family.

Elena and Dara absolutely love this camp, they look forward to it as the highlight of their year. It is rare that kids at their schools can truly understand what they’ve lived through with their dad: chemo, radiation, pain medications, and ultimately, death. At Camp Kesem, they admit, they feel comfortable with everyone, they are no longer the “odd man out.”

It is a charity that we feel so strongly about because they truly understand the impact that cancer has on families.  We have built a community family, and hope that the other three million children in the US that have a parent with cancer will soon be able to find the joy that Camp Kesem has brought to our family.

We hope you’ll support Camp Kesem on this upcoming #GivingTuesday and #BigKidsGive event.  You’ll find my youngest daughter, Dara on facebook/DaraTheBowGirl with her friends giving their support.

College Night at the Container Store Benefitting Camp Kesem

Tuesday, July 30 2013
Century City, CA

Family Night at the Museum 2014!

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Family Night at the Museum 2014!

Save the date for Camp Kesem’s Family Night at the Museum 2014! This event will be held at the Field Museum in Chicago on Saturday, March 8 from 6-9 pm. For more information, please visit http://familynightatthemuseum.org/info-tickets/