Last night we had the incredible privilege and honour to be hosts/emcee’s for the bi-annual Camp Ooch Imagine the Magic Gala. Together with 900 other like minded people we raised 1.2 million dollars so that kids with cancer can go to camp. We were introduced to Camp Oochigeas in 2010 by our youngest daughter Mikaela. The high school she attended had a very strong charity/philanthropic arm to create whole, well rounded individuals to send out into the world. Mikaela met a girl within the first few days of her 9th grade year who was a cancer survivor. Mikaela had also witnessed my cousin’s eldest daughter, who is the same age as her, be diagnosed and beat cancer when she was nine. Camp Ooch spoke to her big, sensitive heart and she became involved with making bracelets for the kids who were in the oncology unit at Sick Kids Hospital here in Toronto.
Yannick and I were moved when she shared her reasoning with us as to why she had picked Camp Ooch as her charity of choice. We were also challenged to do something ourselves. Up until that point we had long moved away from charities since we found too many of them to be large money making machines where the funds didn’t actually go to those who had the need. We had lost our faith that we would ever find an organziation to get behind who didn’t have marble lobbies with fancy downtown addresses and board members making hundreds of thousands of dollars to “help” those in need.
But Ooch was different. Ooch IS different. Ooch is doing it FOR the kids. Ooch makes sure that the money goes directly to the kids, so much so that in order to make sure that they can hold to their mandate that “no kid with cancer gets turned away from camp” they built a mini hospital, full blown oncology unit on the camp grounds so even kids still in treatment can get away from hospital beds and hallways, go to nature and heal.
Some Camp Ooch history: “Thirty years later, Ooch has experienced exponential growth. Serving over a thousand children with and affected by cancer each year, various programs now serve siblings, bereaved siblings and parents. Ooch continues to be the only residential camp in Ontario to offer onsite chemotherapy IV treatment and blood transfusions. Often referred to as the social cure for cancer, we have expanded programs year-round in Muskoka, at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Ooch Downtown and various other cancer centres across Ontario.
With over 450 annual volunteers, 41 full-time staff and a culture that was voted one of Canada’s top 10 most admired cultures by Waterstone in 2012, we continue to recruit loyal talent. Building programs to meet the ever-changing landscape of paediatric healthcare, Ooch relies on the generous support of foundations, donors and volunteers. Ooch does not receive government or hospital funding.”
No marble lobbies or fancy addresses for this charity. We were hooked!
Some of you might be wondering; “what good is it to send kids to camp who are battling cancer? You should be doing better things with that money. How does camp help a kid who is fighting for their lives?” I’ll tell you what the power, and the importance of sending kids with cancer to something so normal, so seemingly trivial is. For two weeks they get to just be kids. Kids having fun. Kids with other kids who they have something in common with. Kids who are told for two straight weeks that THEY CAN. They can climb that rock wall, they can paddle a canoe, they can swing off the rope into the lake.
Cancer seperetes them from all their friends, their classmates, their sports, their families. Cancer tells them that the CAN’T, and takes away the fun and purity of just being a kid. Camp Ooch gives all of that back.
And the power of CAN is the power of HEALING.
And that’s why giving to Camp Ooch is a very good idea my friends. Please join Yannick and me in giving the thousands of kids battling cancer their power back, check out Camp Ooch online https://www.ooch.org/ to see how you can get involved.
I thank you, but the kids thank you even more.