BOULDER JUNCTION - Wisconsin kids living with cancer in their family got to run wild this weekend at Camp Angel in Boulder Junction. The Angel On My Shoulder Foundation has been sending kids from around the state to Camp Angel for 17years.
Story By Lyndsey Stemm
The foundation's founder and executive director says the whole purpose is to provide a weekend for these kids to just be kids again.
"It's healing. It's healing for me as well as for them," says Executive Director Lolly Rose.
When Rose's husband passed away from cancer she and her family decided to create something that would help others affected by the disease. The Angel On My Shoulder Foundation has programs for cancer survivors and caregivers... but it's someone else that Camp Angel focuses on.
"These are kids affected by cancer through a loved one, either parent sibling or grandparent. Or they've lost someone to that situation," says Rose.
"And anybody whose dealt with cancer knows that really takes up everyone's time and energy and thoughts and everything is built around what's going on with the cancer," says Amy Lemke.
"Families don't get to do as much fun stuff. They don't get to go to the Dells or do fun things on the weekend, or roller-skate, or play out with friends or go on play dates because a lot of times parents are going to the hospital," says Dr. Vijay Aswany, from Marshfield Clinic.
These kids are bussed in from every nook and corner of the state to enjoy a weekend of fun, and a little bit of pampering.
"This morning we got our hair done, and face paint. And then we made kaleidoscope. Then we went rock wall climbing and we both got to the top," says Emily Sullivan, nine years old, from Dodgeville.
On snowy weekends the kids get to go snowmobiling, sledding and ice fishing. Volunteers say cancer is often the one element that's not on the agenda.
"We don't have any talks on cancer. We don't walk around with long faces. Here, you're just a kid," says Dr. Vijay.
"And they don't have to talk about it if they don't want to. But if they want to talk about it, everybody around them knows what this is about. They know where these kids are coming from," says Cody Lemke, a Counselor.
"You definitely notice them being able to relax and relate," says Richard Lemke.
The kids might start out shy, but most find it's a place they can make fast friends.
"We kept smiling at each other on the bus," says 10-year-old Julia Herod, from Waukesha.
"Yeah we became friends pretty much when we walked into the building," says Sullivan.
Camp Angel has touched so many kids for so many years, many of them come back, to give back. Twelve-year-old Alayna Perry went from camper to junior counselor.
"My mom met up with the people and she likes to do a lot of volunteer work and help because she was the one who had cancer for this camp, and she wants to give back because of the opportunities I was able to get because of it. I think we're going to be doing this every year," says Perry.
Angel On My Shoulder has hundreds of volunteers for its many programs. But this weekend, the thirty people who wanted to show these kids a good time can rest easy.
"I feel special that I can interact with other people who know how I'm feeling," says Sullivan.