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Last night, the SeriousFun Children’s Network Gala in New York City welcomed hundreds of guests to the historic Ziegfeld Ballroom for a night of fundraising, storytelling, song and dance. Some of the biggest stars in music and entertainment—including Kevin Bacon, Liam Neeson, and Jackson Browne—were joined on the stage by SeriousFun campers.
Jonathan, a North Star Reach camper (pictured with his camp friends above), gave a rousing rap performance and helped to celebrate the global network of camps and programs.
Below, we found an interview with Jonathan from our video archives, captured when he was a camper two years ago during Sickle Cell/Hematology Camp.
Way to go, Jonathan! Thank you for traveling to New York City and sharing proof of camp’s life-changing power. Learn more about the Gala at SeriousFun Chlidren’s Network’s website.
Twelve-year-old Nora has attended North Star Reach for two summers, learning new skills, gaining confidence, and making friends with other kids who also have congenital heart disorders. “In just a short span of time,” she says, “I formed a lasting bond with all these kids who understand what I live with every day: they live with it too.” Nora is hoping to join her friends at Cardiology Camp in July following a surgery on her spine in June.
My name is Nora and I’m 12 years old. I’ve been a camper at North Star Reach for two summers so far. I have had nine surgeries since I was two years old–on my heart, ears, spine and hands–and take medicine every day for chronic pain. I’ve also had a pacemaker since I was two.
When I tell people about my experiences in the hospital they are like, “Oh, that’s awful you poor thing!” And sometimes they don’t know what to say. But at camp I met Maria–she had holes in her heart like I did. I also met a few people who had little machines that kept their heart beating. In just a short span of time, I formed a lasting bond with all these kids who understand what I live with every day: they live with it too.
Camp at North Star Reach has given me confidence! It’s hard not to feel self-conscious about your stitches when you wear a bathing suit. But it’s not that bad, to be honest. At camp, I learned to fish. I sang on stage for the first time.
This June, I’ll have another surgery on my spine. The first question I asked the doctors was, “Do you think I will be able to go to camp this year?” I hope I can. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and seeing my friends from last year.
Though our camp feels like a traditional camp, behind the scenes is a state-of-the-art health center staffed by world-class doctors and nurses. North Star Reach also offers a Sibling Camp, for brothers and sisters of campers with a medical condition. Nora’s sister, Haddie, and brother, Fletcher, joined us last summer. The video below shows how camp has made a difference to their whole family.
If you’re inspired to help kids like Nora, Haddie and Fletcher attend camp at no cost to their families, please consider a donation.