When Mary Ann Rupp was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago, Camp Hope was there to help her kids during the tough time.
“It’s meant a lot that they’re here and able to know that they’re not alone,” said Rupp. “That there are other kids just like them.”
“Knowing that it’s not just your parent that has the cancer, multiple other people do,” said her son Schyler.
For the past 14 years, nearly 500 kids have participated in the weeklong summer camp for kids ages five to 12 who have a parent or close family member living with cancer.
Music, art, and drama therapy, along with outdoor activities and exploration is led by clinical social workers and student teachers.
“It got started because we wanted to help the kids cope with the changes that go on in the home and to help with the fears that they have and to know that they’re not alone. And just to have a time for kids to be kids,” said Linda Conlin, a social work manager at Edward-Elmhurst.
Camp Hope is completely free to participants, thanks to a special sponsorship at the Hoops for Healing tournament held each winter. Nine local high schools raise money at the tournament that goes toward the camp, and in the summer those players get to see what their hard work really means.
“A few years ago they started asking all the players to come and just have a day with them, provide some support for them. They wanted to see what everyone was doing with the camp, sort of like ‘where is this all going?’ It’s been really good for our players to get more involved with this side of it and not just the basketball side of it,” said Head Basketball Coach at Oswego High School Chad Pohlmann.
Hoops for Healing has raised over $300,000 since last year’s tournament, with the hope to continue raising money for the meaningful camp.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.