Camp Kesem at UNC-Greensboro, a student-led nonprofit organization that supports children ages 6 to 18 through and beyond a parent or guardian’s cancer, held its first, “Make the Magic” fundraising banquet on April 5.
The fundraiser began at 6 p.m. and took place at George K’s Catering and Banquet Hall on Cedar Fork Dr. The event was planned by Camp Kesem at UNC-Greensboro’s, “Make the Magic” Coordinator, UNCG student Lauren Szalay.
“‘Make the Magic’ is a Camp Kesem tradition. It is a formal fundraiser dinner that helps secure a large amount of the funds necessary to provide a free week of summer camp for kids whose parents have been affected by cancer along with other year long services,” said Szalay, who is a Deaf Education and Special Education major with a minor in Spanish.
She continues describing the event, stating that, “It is typically an annual event for many of the chapters across the country. As a chapter that just finished their first summer of camp, we were applicable to have our first ‘Make the Magic’ this year.”
Camp Kesem is a flagship program on Kesem, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit. There are 117 chapters of Camp Kesem nationwide, all based out of college campuses including four in North Carolina: Duke, NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill and the most recent addition, Camp Kesem at UNC-Greensboro.
Camp Kesem at UNC-Greensboro was founded in 2017 and served 32 children impacted by a parent’s cancer in 2018. The primary service of the organization was to provide a completely free and fun week of summer camp, which took place Aug. 6-11, 2018.
The event began with an hour of small activities and mingling. Activities included: a nametag station where guests could choose a camp name, a Camp Kesem tradition for campers and counselors, a luminary station where guests could create or dedicate their own luminaries, as well as a photo booth.
Dinner was served to all guests and was followed by door prizes from various businesses inside and outside of Greensboro. A game of “Heads or Tails,” an interactive activity in which guests competed to win a fly fishing lesson, preceded the main events of the night.
When technological issues put a delay on playing scheduled videos, Camp Kesem at UNC-Greensboro volunteers were quick to act. UNCG students who work with Camp Kesem by serving on the leadership board and volunteering as counselors for the week of camp sang camp songs and encouraged “Make the Magic” guests to join them until the videos were fixed. Following the videos, the emcees of the night, Jenn Campbell and Sydney Montgomery, led a paddle raise fundraiser.
“I had two favorite moments that night. One moment was when we showed the video about our campers and camper parents. They talked about what Kesem, specifically our chapter, meant to them. Not only did I get to see some familiar faces, but so did our guests,” said Szalay, who had worked on the event by securing the venue, guests, sponsors and decorations, along with planning the itinerary and training volunteers.
“I think the impact of what we were doing really hit everyone in the moment, and getting to see everyone connect over that video was really great. My other favorite moment was when I got to announce the total of the night,” she proceeded to explain.
The goal for the student group’s first annual “Make the Magic” event was $5,000, but the group raised just over $13,000 thanks to both sponsorships and guest donations.
“Besides the amount of money we raised, we also got to inform more people about Kesem’s mission and I think that spreading the word about this amazing organization can always be counted as a success,” said Szalay. “This event could not have happened without the support of the Camp Kesem at UNC-Greensboro directors and other coordinators!”
If you are interested in learning more about Camp Kesem at UNC-Greensboro, be sure to check out the website here https://campkesem.org/unc-greensboro/ to learn more about the program and about how to join.