We did it! We funded the Pepperdine chapter of Camp Kesem! What started out as a conversation with a client 12 months ago, has now transformed into a reality. Camp Kesem at Pepperdine is happening, and they will be operating their very first camp in the summer of 2018!!!
For those of you who might not be familiar with exactly what Camp Kesem is, I think their slogan best describes their goal.
A child’s friend through and beyond a parent’s cancer.
Operating at over 90 college campuses nationally, Camp Kesem offers a free 1 week camp, as well as year-round support, to children between the ages of 6-16, whose parents have struggled through cancer. Each individual chapter is run by college volunteers.
Last year I set out to help open a local Camp Kesem chapter for our community. There are Kesem chapters in Santa Barbara, Northridge, UCLA, and USC. I knew I wanted something closer to home.
Pepperdine actually wasn’t my first choice. I’d originally worked towards getting a chapter started at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks. Unfortunately, the way they structured their on-campus organizations did not work with the way Kesem operates, so we had to move on. Since my wife attended the Pepperdine School of Law, I decided that would be my next attempt.
Over 60 people and almost $41K later, we did it!
I’ve found myself reflecting on this goal recently. This is the first time in my life that I’ve been so passionate about something that didn’t involve family.
I’ve wondered why getting the Pepperdine chapter opened was so important to me. The obvious answer is that I lost my dad when I was a kid, and I know what it’s like to have a parent who dealt with cancer. Now, that most certainly is a big part of it, but there’s a bigger reason that motivated me.
Being a parent to 2 awesome kids, and having had just gone through my heart surgery, I was able to, at least in some very small way, relate to how a parent with cancer feels when thinking about their kids. No, I didn’t have cancer. But, I did go through a very serious surgery that forced me to think about my own mortality. Something I imagine I would do a lot if I were to have cancer. I spent 5 days in the hospital before my surgery thinking about life. Thinking about how my kids were doing and how my situation was affecting them. I thought about how they would be if I didn’t make it. Who would support my family?
That is exactly what Camp Kesem does. During a time when mom and dad can be to wrapped up in dealing with their own health issues, Camp Kesem can help to ease some of stress that the kids might be feeling. The actual camp may only last a week, but the relationships forged, and the experiences gained, will last a lifetime.
Since reaching my goal I’ve had a lot of people tell me how proud I should be of this accomplishment. For some reason, I feel a little weird when I hear that from people. Maybe it’s because I’m not comfortable accepting praise for my actions. I’m not sure.
Regardless, I do feel extremely blessed to have so many people in my life that were willing to open their checkbooks and help support this cause. I’m happy that my children got to see me work towards, and achieve a goal that will benefit so many people for years to come. But most of all, when I try to think about the kids, when I try to imagine what life is like at home for them and the emotions that they’re feeling, I become overjoyed thinking about how Camp Kesem will help to change their lives for the better. I wasn’t able to benefit from a Camp Kesem when I was a kid, but I’m sure glad that I now have the opportunity to help others out now.
Thank you to everyone who helped, not just monetarily, but with verbal support as well. I so appreciate every one of you!