Camp CARE hosts 5K to support cancer patients, survivors

A girl gets ready to hop on the bus to go to camp last summer thanks to Camp CARE (Cancer Ain’t Really the End), which provides summer camping experiences for kids with or who are battling cancer. An upcoming event in south Charlotte will raise money for the next camp.

Locals need to lace up their running shoes in order to send some kids in need to camp.

Next Saturday, Camp CARE will host their annual 5K Run and Walk to help provide children who have cancer or have survived cancer with a week of summer fun free of charge.

The 5K Run and Walk, now in its 18th year, is scheduled for Sept. 8 at McAlpine Creek Park, located at 8701 Monroe Road in south Charlotte. This year’s walk will be held in memory of P.J. St. Martin and Zack Dobbin, former Camp CARE campers.

Ten-year Camp CARE (Cancer Ain’t Really the End) marketing and public relations volunteer Casey Corser said the camp is integral to the south Charlotte community.

“We promote the belief that a child with cancer is first and foremost a child,” Corser said. “The children who face the reality of pediatric cancer deserve every opportunity to experience traditional childhood memories, fun and time with friends.  Because cancer impacts the entire family and can place unexpected and overwhelming financial burdens” on families.

All proceeds raised from the 5K Run and Walk go directly to the summer camp, and any donations to Camp CARE also go directly to the summer camp and children’s activities, according to Corser.

Registration for the 5K Run and Walk is still open and anyone interested is invited to participate, Corser said.

“Anyone, any age is welcome – from avid runners to kids who just want to come out and enjoy a great day of music, fun and food.”

Corser said the camp, which serves children from Charlotte and the surrounding areas, has been around for nearly three decades.

“For the past 27 years, the dedicated volunteer staff of Camp CARE has provided area children who have or had cancer with a free traditional week-long summer camp experience, at no cost to their families,” Corser said.

Corser said the camp also invites siblings to join, since the financial burdens can often overshadow other family members.

“Our organization rents a longstanding campground located on beautiful Lake Lure where campers enjoy all the traditions and customs of summer camp – staying in cabins, camp fires, boat rides, tubing, hiking, fishing, sing-a-longs, archery, crafts and more,” Corser said.

The journey starts in the parking lot of Charlotte Catholic High School – where four tour buses of children, pillows and luggage are loaded by volunteers while parents say goodbye to their children, “just like so many other children across the Carolinas as they head off to summer camp, some for the first time, for the second, some for the sixth time,” Corser said.

Camp CARE is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and relies entirely on donations to raise more than $100,000 annually in order to provide the summer camp experience to all those interested and in need.  Additionally, it provides services for patients from both Presbyterian Hemby Children’s Hospital and Levine Children’s Hospital.  All patients receiving cancer treatment at each location are informed of the organization’s services and support through the nursing staff and Child Life Specialists of each hospital.

“Camp CARE is truly fueled on the love and dedication of volunteers,” Corser said, adding that many decide to give back after their time at the camp.

“Knowing that children either being treated for or recovering from cancer can still enjoy simple childhood treasures is irreplaceable,” Corser said. “Many of our camp counselors are former campers. They bring hope to every child and parent that ‘Cancer Ain’t Really the End.’”

Find more information at the group’s website, www.campcare.org or www.campcare5k.com.  Registration is by individual or team.

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