Fundraisers help send local pediatric patients to California camp
HUNTINGTON -- For many children, summer camp is a typical thing. A rite of childhood.
For children with life-threatening or terminal diseases, it's a dream -- except at Dream Street in California.
That's a special camp set up to allow children with life-threatening or terminal ailments -- some of them in extremely frail medical states -- to experience a medically sound but typical summer camp experience.
Cabell Huntington Hospital has nine children going, thanks to the generosity of employees, volunteers and visitors to the hospital. The hospital wrapped up fundraising activities Thursday that brought in more than $30,000. Twenty thousand of that will go to Relay for Life, which starts at 6 p.m. Friday, June 13, at Barboursville Park. The rest will go toward Dream Street travel expenses for the nine children and a support crew, including Mogul, one nurse, five counselors and two residents.
Funds were raised through a variety of activities put on with the help of employees and volunteers, including a gift basket raffle and selling everything from popcorn to chocolate-covered strawberries to T-shirts.
The camp is typical in that it has the usual swimming, horseback riding, arts, crafts, field games, shows and dances.
"What's unique about this is it allows kids to come in an extreme state of fragility," said Dr. Mark Mogul, medical director of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Cabell. He's also the medical director for the camp and will be attending July 13-20. This year will be his 18th time.
Mogul helps make sure kids are medically safe and comfortable, and has stayed up into the wee hours of the morning before to determine a good pain management plan for a child who was particularly frail but also wanted to participate in the activities. If they need chemo treatments, they get them. If they need meds four times a day, they get them. If they're in extreme pain and need morphine, they get it. So when it comes time for having a water fight or climbing onto the back of a horse, they can usually go for it.
"Every year, we hear stories about a child who has had the most amazing week of their life and lives to go another year," Mogul said. "It's the most incredible experience to see kids who could not go anywhere else because they're so sick."
Some seem to literally live to get to camp one more time, and then pass away shortly afterward, he said.
"We get them through an incredible week," he said. "They're beside themselves."
There's also a Dream Street Camp for young adults with terminal illnesses.
For more information about these camps and how to help, visit www.dreamstreetfoundation.org.
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