[FULL ARTICLE & PHOTOS BELOW] This past Wednesday, 120 children from around the globe, who are battling cancer, visited New York City for their annual trip from their magnificent summer camp in Upstate NY. This was an extraordinary wish for these very brave and sick children.
To end their NYC trip, the children performed a 30 minute amateur camp performance in the bleacher/promenade area in Times Square.
The logistics involved in planning such an event is virtually impossible to put into writing.
Each child has at least one counselor, and some have two. Doctors, Paramedics, EMT’s, Nurses, and other medical personnel accompanied the group – along with private ambulances.
A permit was graciously granted to the camp by Mr. Thomas Harris, who is the Senior Vice President Of Security & Operations for the Times Square Alliance. Harris is no stranger to the needs of such a camp, as he served as the commanding officer of the NYPD’s 70 Pct – which serves most of Flatbush – for many years before retiring approximately two years ago. (See YWN article HERE).
The weather forecast was predicting severe storms, but Chai Lifeline’s Executive Vice President, Rabbi Simcha Scholar kept on saying “it never rains at Camp Simcha”. No one believed him, but Hashem held the storm clouds away as the show started.
The buses arrived like clockwork – one by one – at precisely 8:00PM.
The enthusiasm and spirit that the counselors displayed as they greeted each child as they exited the buses was incredible….
The entire group got into position – and a van from Misaskim with a generator and speaker system pulled up.
The head counselor started the music, and what followed is something which can not be described. The entire camp was dancing with such simcha, excitement, and spunk, that the entire Times Square stopped and stared in disbelief – as hundreds of Yarmulka-wearing people made a tremendous Kiddush Hashem!
Thousands of New Yorkers, and tourists all gathered around and watched these courageous and brave children put on a show with their counselors cheering and encouraging them on.
Just minutes after the show ended, and the buses pulled away, the skies turned black and grey, as ugly storm clouds rumbled into NYC.
Rabbi Scholar was right…..it never rains at Camp Simcha!
Since 1987, Chai Lifeline’s mission has been to restore the light of childhood to children whose innocence ended when life-threatening or lifelong illness was diagnosed.
Through programs that address the emotional, social, and financial needs of seriously ill children, their families, and communities, Chai Lifeline restores normalcy to family life, and better enables families to withstand the crises and challenges of serious pediatric illness.
ABOUT CAMP SIMCHA: Each summer, 430 seriously ill children are treated to unforgettable, medically supervised overnight camp experiences at Camp Simcha, for children battling cancer and other hematologic illnesses, and Camp Simcha Special, for children with debilitating chronic conditions.
THE CAMP: There is a place nestled in the beautiful hills of rural New York, where children and teens come to experience the wonders of summer camp in spite of being seriously ill with cancer or other debilitating chronic conditions – all tuition free. Even transportation to and from camp is provided by the sponsoring parent organization, Chai LifeLine. The medical accommodations and staff are amazing and include highly specialized doctors, nurses, therapists, and paramedics, all of whom donate their valuable time to this special place in behalf of the campers. Camp Simcha is a camp for children with cancer, a project of Chai Lifeline, Inc. an international 501(c)3 not-for-profit.
For more information please visit http://www.campsimcha.org/ and also http://chailifeline.org/
Click HERE for photos by Hillel Engel. Video footage taken by Dovy Glatzer for YWN.
(Yehuda Drudgestein – YWN)