Camp Kesem helps kids impacted by cancer

Camp Kesem at Florida State University is gearing up for its annual Make the Magic event, which benefits the kids at the camp.

According to the nonprofit’s mission statement, it is a “nationwide community, driven by passionate college student leaders, that supports children through and beyond their parent’s cancer.”

The organization has over 3,000 student leaders at over one hundred colleges across the U.S. The camp reached 6,000 kids in 2016 alone, 65 of which came from the chapter at FSU.

Make the Magic – a fundraiser geared toward making the camp free – will include a cocktail hour, a formal dinner and speeches from leaders at all levels of the organization. Guests will be able to connect with camp counselors and participate in activities related to the camp.

Last year’s Make the Magic event raised over $6,000. With more time and resources dedicated to advertising and marketing, the organization has plans to nearly double that amount this year.

“Last year was definitely a successful fundraiser but we know we can do better,” said Zack Tregoe, Camp Kesem’s FSU branch co-director. “With repeat donors and the growth of Kesem we want to reach a donation goal of $11,000.”

Zack Tregoe, originally from Tampa, is a co-director for Camp Kesem at FSU. Photo/campkesem.org/fsu

Proceeds from each event go straight to the campers themselves, ensuring that every child who attends the camp is doing so for free. Each counselor must raise at least $500, which is then combined.

The camp itself is six days and five nights that include activities from sports to arts and crafts. The camp provides an escape for children dealing with the impacts of cancer on their family.

The camp encourages open dialogue through the Empowerment Ceremony. At the ceremony, campers are encouraged to talk about why they are there. Campers all share that one or both of their parents have been affected by cancer to some degree.

This includes parents who are actively battling cancer, are a cancer survivor or have lost their battle. This ceremony works to bring campers together.

“My favorite event at the camp is Wow-Pow-Chow, something we do every night,” Tregoe says.

Wow-Pow-Chow (WPC) is a part of Cabin Chat, a large group discussion focused on that specific day. The ‘wow’ is for the best part of the day, the ‘pow’ is for the worst part of the day and the ‘chow’ is for the best food of the day.

“I love the way WPC is able to give every camper a voice, but it also helps us in bettering the camp for the future,” Tregoe said. “When feedback from a certain activity is positive, we know to emphasize it the next year. If the feedback is just so-so, we either replace it or ask our campers how to improve it.”

Make the Magic will take place March 4, 2017. Those looking to attend will be able to purchase tickets for $50 at campkesem.org/fsu.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Raises Money Via Delta Sorority

Delta Delta Delta is a sorority at the University of South Florida. They hosted the annual Delta House of Pancakes philanthropy event on Friday, stacking piles of pancakes and raising thousands of dollars for sick children fighting cancer and their families.

Each semester, the USF Greek Life community presents charity events that benefit over 49  organizations. Tri Delta’s national philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which provides housing, food and medical treatment for any child diagnosed with cancer, regardless whether their family can afford it.

Most of these children are terminal. Once a year, Tri Delta hosts Delta House of Pancakes, which costs attendees $5 for pre-sale tickets and $7 at the door. The ticket allows them unlimited pancakes and other breakfast items.

Walking into the Tri Delta chapter room, guests are overwhelmed with the aroma of maple syrup, crackling bacon and most importantly, pounds upon pounds of golden pancakes.  Tables and chairs are lined up with eager college students ready to devour something better than dining hall food.

This year, the planning and work paid off, raising over $17,000 for St. Jude’s.  For the chapter president, Mackenzie Reyes, the experience is much more than simply writing a check.

“Every patient we meet, every success story we hear and every time the survival rate improves is possible because of the millions of dollars raised and the awareness generated by Tri Delta members for the past 15 years,” Reyes said.

Reyes, along with 45 other members of Tri Delta, recently visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The sorority sisters were given the opportunity to see exactly where their contributions go and the brave children they affect.

St. Jude’s treats newborns up to 21-year-olds, for brain tumors, leukemia, lymphoma, infectious diseases, blood disorders, sickle cell disease and solid tumors. Treatment for these diseases is rough, expensive and sometimes hard to watch. For the Tri Delta’s, meeting these sick children face to face made all the difference.

“I had a multitude of the most highly trained doctors in America and the strongest children of our future generation coming up to me and thanking me for all that we do as sorority women,” Reyes said. “We help their families through some of the darkest times of their lives.”

Delta House of Pancakes attracted a crowd of over 400 people to the Tri Delta house in USF Greek Village, not including the five Tampa Bay businesses that sponsored the event. The attendance and sponsorship’s played a big role in helping Tri Delta reach a monetary goal and spread awareness.

“Our goal is to raise $60 million in 10 years, after recently beating our $15 million in 5 years goal,” Lexi Kalantzis said, a Tri Delta member of two years.

Tri Delta holds the largest single commitment by a St. Jude partner, having had a short-term housing facility named after their organization. The housing facility, located in Memphis, acts as a residence for cancer-fighting adolescents and their families for up to a week.

It is free of charge because of donations from Tri Delta, so the families can focus on saving their child’s life and lessening the pain that comes with battling such a disease. 

“Who wouldn’t want to play a direct role in raising money for St. Jude’s?” Teagan Fiore said , the Tri Delta philanthropy chair who planned the event.

With the help of the other 48 Greek organizations on campus and the community, Tri Delta members such as Reyes, Kalantzis and Fiore are confident a major impact can be made for participating charities, and countless young lives can be spared.

“We are a part of something much larger than ourselves,” Reyes said.