Camp Kesem has some exciting news – thanks to the generous support of our donors and supporters, we are opening 8 new programs in 8 new communities.  These new programs will allow us to serve hundreds of more children and families for years to come.

We are particularly grateful to the following donors for providing seed funding to launch these chapters: Richard and Dara Levy, Bobby Jackson, the Hellman Foundation, Highmark, Novartis, and Tower Cancer Foundation & the Cancer Free Generation.  We are incredibly excited to work with the students at these new universities to begin their training and program preparations.

Our 8 new chapters, which will start operations immediately to offer their first camp in Summer 2015, are:

Boston College
Carnegie Mellon University
Cornell University 
California State University, Fresno
Princeton University
UC Santa Barbara
University of South Alabama 
 With these new chapters, Camp Kesem will have 62 chapters nationwide in 29 different states! This means our programs will be accessible to thousands of more children than today.
 We also wanted to share our newest video to help share the magic of Camp Kesem:
Camp Kesem: Luke's Story
Camp Kesem: Luke’s Story
Please feel free to share this wonderful news with all of your friends and family. Camp Kesem is overjoyed to be able to reach new children and new communities in need across the United States!

Camp Kesem Counselor, John Groden, Shares His Story with the Chicago Sun Times

John Groden on how Camp Kesem helped him see his way out of the darkness

By JOHN GRODEN April 3, 2014 9:46AM

Normally, when someone introduces themselves, they talk about their achievements. To that end, my name is John Groden. I am a history major at the University of Notre Dame. I am an Eagle Scout, and a swimming and water polo Academic All-American. However, I also have a more personal part of my identity that I don’t often share, but that defines who I am today.

My father died when I was 5 years old. I was keenly aware of this growing up — how I was different, how much harder my mother had to work and how my friends could never really understand. I never talked to them about it, and I tried my best to pretend that everything was normal.

But my life was anything but normal.

Read more

March Madness – Family Night at the Museum Recap and more!

March has been quite the incredible month for Camp Kesem.

Earlier this month, on March 8th, we gathered at the beloved Field Museum of Chicago to bring awareness to the population of children that Camp Kesem serves. It was an incredible evening, with over 1,000 guests and supporters in attendance, including Dara & Richard Levy, host Susanna Negovan from SPLASH of the Chicago Sun times, and our fantastic student leader John Groden who shared his personal and moving story. Together we raised over $515,000 which will allow Camp Kesem to send 750 more kids to camp this summer.

FNATM collage 1

To view more photos, visit our Facebook!

To kick off our “Send a Kid to Camp” paddle raise at the event, our honorees Richard & Dara Levy made a very exciting announcement: they would match all $1,000 donations (up to $30,000) to start a new Camp Kesem chapter in honor of Jim Fieldman, Dara’s late husband, who passed away from colon cancer. Their incredibly generous gift inspired so many others to give, and this was Camp Kesem’s most successful fundraiser to date.

Camp Kesem would not have been able to host such an amazing event without the support of: Victory Capital Partners, Giordano’s, Prtizker Pucker Family Foundation, Baxter Credit Union, Credit Suisse, FlexPrint, Inc., Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Merrill Corporation, Silver Airways, Dataframe Logistics, Duff & Phelps, Latham & Watkins, NBCUniversal, Northern Trust, Fresh Wave, Mesirow Financial, Inc., and NHL Hockey Against Cancer. Thank you also to our Print Media Sponsor, SPLASH by the Chicago Sun-Times, and our Magazine Sponsor, Chicago Parent, as well as our grant funders, The Sun-Times Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust, who matched donations to Camp Kesem, up to a total of $5,000.

Camp Kesem also had the amazing opportunity to participate in #GivingTuesday’s Best Practices Summit on March 18th at the new UN Foundation headquarters in Washington, D.C. We shared more about our 2013 #BigKidsGive #GivingTuesday campaign and learned so many new tips and ideas for Giving Tuesday 2014!

Giving Tuesday Collage

Finally, we wanted to share a few updates about our partnership with the 550 Relay. Camp Kesem now has an even bigger opportunity to raise more funds for our programs from this amazing event. Runners, now, can sign up as 1, 2 or 4 person teams for the marathon. This means, as a rummer, you can either:

  1. Run the marathon on your own.
  2. Split the marathon in half and share the distance with a partner or
  3. Split the marathon in four and share the distance with three partners.

So grab a friend and spread the magic of Camp Kesem by signing up to run today! More info here.

We are so excited for what the rest of 2014 has to come. Camp season is quickly approaching and we’ll have even more to share in the upcoming months about our new camps.

Please see some of the amazing press we’ve received about Family Night at the Museum 2014 below:

FOX Chicago
SPLASH by the Chicago Sun Times
KISS FM Chicago
Chicago Parent

CEO Jane Saccaro on My FOX Chicago!

Our very own Jane Saccaro, Camp Kesem CEO, was featured on FOX 32 News to talk about Camp Kesem and tonight’s Family Night at the Museum event. In her interview, Jane talks about how Camp Kesem was started, why she got involved, and how Kesem would influence her life in ways she hadn’t originally anticipated. Watch the interview with our fearless leader here.

Dara Levy Tells 103.5 Kiss FM Chicago About Camp Kesem

Dara Levy, owner of Cellular Intelligence Luxury Medspa, joined 103.5 Kiss FM Chicago for their Whitney’s Women feature on Monday. Levy is involved with Camp Kesem in the Chicago area, and she spoke about the Family Night at the Museum event, which will be held on March 8th, 2014 at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Listen to the full feature >>

LiveSTRONG & Camp Kesem Pair For 550 Relay

5 days. 50 states. 550 runners.

Steve Cannon is planning the 550 Relay which, if successful, will be the largest marathon relay in history. There will be 11 chosen participants from each state, with a goal of raising $2.5 million dollars for cancer survivors and their families. Are you up for the challenge? Click here to learn more about how to join this record-breaking team.

More on how Steve got to organizing the 550 Relay:

“In 2009, after months of contemplation and trepidation, I decided to run across my home state of Iowa. The event would cover 292 miles and average a marathon a day for 11 straight days. I wanted to attempt the run for two reasons: first, to see if I could do it, and second, to raise money while doing so. My aunt died of breast cancer when I was 12, and my grandmother from lung cancer more recently. Both were incredible women who touched my life more deeply than most. I was not sure what charity to choose as this was new territory for me.”

Visit the blog >>

How One Young Girl’s Dream Made a Difference

What happens when one young person wants to make a difference? Jill Sammons, the daughter of one of Camp Kesem’s corporate donors, decided she wanted to contribute to Camp Kesem as well, but don’t let her young age of 10 fool you. Her dream? To raise $300 by creating and selling 60 luminaria bags. The reality? 250 bags and $1,250 toward Camp Kesem. Jill has experienced the magic of Camp Kesem, the way people are compelled to join this cause, and she saw these bags end up in 18 different states!

Screen shot 2014-01-06 at 1.36.39 PM

Jill, on behalf of Camp Kesem we cannot thank you and your family enough. Thank you for having a dream, and thank you for making that dream come true for so many children in tough situations. What a way to spread holiday cheer!


Huffington Post Features Camp Kesem CEO, Jane Saccaro!

How My Sister’s Cancer Battle Strengthens My Resolve

“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.”

Read the full article >>

Camp Kesem’s #GivingTuesday Success Highlighted in NPEngage!

Michael Beahm, Channel Marketing Manager at Blackbaud, talked to Mai-Lan Pham, Camp Kesem’s Marketing Manager, about her efforts in leading Camp Kesem through a very successful #GivingTuesday!

“For #GivingTuesday, Camp Kesem sought to inspire the big kid in all of us by encouraging students and faculty members on their campuses to take a photo in one of 45 #BigKidsGive #GivingTuesday photo booths with a sign to encourage online donations to their local college’s Camp Kesem chapter and then share their photo via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Camp Kesem Marketing Manager Mai-Lan told me this was their biggest social media campaign to date! Over 1,300 #bigkidsgive photos were shared on social media, including celebrity posts from NBA star Blake Griffin and B.J. Novak of The Office. And $10,000 was raised to send more kids to camp this summer.”

Read the full article here >>

Camp Kesem Featured in Reach to Recovery International E-Newsletter

Reach to Recovery International is “a network of individuals, groups and organisations committed to improving the quality of life for women with breast cancer and their families through peer support, advocacy and consumer involvement in research.” Bloom is their international e-newsletter, which allows women who are breast cancer survivors to tell their stories and share their experiences, both emotional and psychological. Camp Kesem was featured in Bloom’s November issue, which focused specifically on the children of breast cancer patients.

One of our amazing Camp Kesem parents shared her story of joining the CK family and how it has affected her family since. She explains how she is reassured to know that her kids “will always have Kesem,” because “Kesem is family.”

Read the full issue >>