Many Country School students and their families were “Freezin’ for a Reason” at the Tred Avon Yacht Club in Oxford on Sunday in an effort to raise money for Camp Sunshine. The camp hosts Polar Dips throughout the country and yesterday’s event raised more than $15,500, enough to pay for 6 families to attend the program for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Based in Casco, Maine, on picturesque Sebago Lake, Camp Sunshine’s mission is to offer a place of comfort, hope, and support for families facing their most difficult challenges. To date, the organization has served more than 48,500 people from 49 states and 27 countries, and currently stands alone as the only full-time facility in the nation whose sole purpose is to provide respite for the whole family of children with serious medical conditions.
Country School third grader Gabe Loeser attended Camp Sunshine with his family and had a huge outpouring of support at the event. Participants donned yellow and black “Team Gabe” shirts and spent some uncomfortable seconds in the water to support Gabe and his family. Through the generosity of the Loesers’ friends and family, Team Gabe raised more than $5,000.
“We are so grateful and humbled by the support the Country School community and that which so many of our friends have offered to our family,” said David Loeser. “Gabe’s brain tumor diagnosis in 2014 hit all of us hard and our focus was really on his medical improvement. It was easy to allow the magnitude of this to wash out the daily needs of each member of the family.
“When we found out about Camp Sunshine, we were hesitant, frankly. We felt like we had enough sadness and that spending a week with other cancer patients and their families would be too difficult,” Loeser continued. “We couldn’t have been more wrong. Camp Sunshine provides valuable therapy for every member of the family. …We agreed that it was our favorite vacation and hope to attend annually.”
Camp Sunshine is free to families, thanks to donations and sponsorships from civic groups, corporations, foundations, and individuals. Donations were still coming in as the event closed down on Sunday.
“What an amazing event and such a remarkable community,” said Camp Sunshine director Michael Katz. “To see everyone’s heartfelt support for both Gabe and other families facing similar challenges was most inspiring. Between the hard work of local organizers John and Dodi Sutton and the way the entire community rallied together, the event was a huge success. Camp Sunshine is very appreciative of everyone’s efforts and support and looks forward to making this an annual event.”
The Country School would like to extend its deepest thanks to the Camp Sunshine staff for their commitment to children and their families.