Committee Member Spotlight: Get to know Sam Welk

samTwelve weeks ago, I did not even know Camp Kesem existed; now, I have never been more excited about an opportunity to work with the incredible people and experience all that Kesem has to offer. Even though I am new member to the Camp Kesem family, I already feel a strong connection to the organization and its outstanding purpose of offering an escape for kids who are enduring the painful, everyday realization that their parent is battling cancer. I was, and to an extent still am, in the very same scenario that each one of our campers is experiencing. My mother battled sarcoma cancer for a year and a half before passing away in 2010, just one week before Christmas – her favorite holiday.

Her fight with cancer began when I was in 8th grade and the state of shock I was in when I was told the heart-wrenching news was unfathomable. It’s a surreal experience at any age, especially so young, to learn that a family member so close to you is now fighting for their life. Although it was easy to crumble down and give up, my mom refused to let that happen to anyone, especially her family. Whether she was bedridden from the exhausting chemo rounds she was receiving or coming out of one of her endless meetings with the doctor, her spirit was never low. It was almost impossible to be in a bad mood around her when there was a continuous smile stretched on her face. Despite the joyous persona we embodied when around each other, it was still a very real situation my family and I were confronted with on an everyday basis.

I can only imagine what Camp Kesem would have done for my family and me during such a stressful stretch of our lives. The mental escape I could have received and the relief of my parent’s anxiety as they worried about how I was dealing with the terribly unfortunate circumstances would have been priceless. Having been through such a similar path at such a similar age as many of the campers that attend Kesem, I can personally attest to the unbelievable amount of alleviation it will provide for each and every one of the kids. Although it’s only a week, it’s a week of liberation that will have a profound impact on the camper’s lives during the strenuous period they are facing seeing a loved one struggle.

The welcoming, heart-warming environment Kesem provides to the campers allows the kids to go back to feeling like they are just that – a kid. Running around with peers and releasing all the emotion that has been tied down from the agony of everyday life means the world to these campers. If only I had the opportunity to retreat from the rigid scene of my mother living in a hospital bed and participate in the uplifting experience of Camp Kesem, it would have made the times that much easier.

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