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Updates from Board Chair Matthew Denenberg, September 2023

Dear Supporters and Champions of North Star Reach,

Earlier this month, some of our North Star Reach team had the chance to visit the family of Amanda Cohen in their home. For those of you who don’t know her story, Amanda is a former camper and volunteer who passed away just over two years ago after an eight-year battle with Pulmonary Hypertension. It is a bitter memory for those who know her and unfortunate for those who did not. In the warm embrace of Amanda’s family, we were reminded of the profound impact camp has on young lives. Our conversation revolved around the delicate balance of sharing Amanda’s vibrant camp journey, while respecting the emotions tied to her passing. Her father echoed her unwavering passion for camp, a sentiment that reflects the urgency of providing this transformative experience to kids like her, who need it now more than ever.

The stories of resilience, confidence, inspiration, joy, and service from Amanda speak volumes about the significance of camp in her life. Since 2016, over 5,000 camp experiences have inspired similar stories in campers and families participating in North Star Reach programs. There are others like Amanda, including three of her close friends, whose camp experiences were cut short because of their diagnosis. These narratives remind us that time is of the essence in granting kids the chance to be part of something extraordinary and invaluable.

Forging Ahead: Our 2024 Vision

As we chart our path into 2024, our focus extends beyond the immediate horizon. We are constructing a robust operational foundation that guarantees the longevity of our mission. Our blueprint encompasses a dynamic 3-to-5-year fundraising plan that not only secures annual camp operations but also lays the groundwork for substantial reserves to ensure that the campfires continue to light well into the future. More on our long-range vision to come in the next newsletter.

Elevating the Camp Experience

Our upcoming 2024 endeavors center on offering some combination of onsite resident and family sessions that will provide space for hundreds of patients, siblings, parents, staff, and volunteers. Our mission remains clear: providing life-changing camp experiences for children with serious health challenges and their families, free of charge. Led by Director of Camping and the curator of camp “Mooseness,” Patrick Smith, we can all imagine the laughter around the campfire, the creativity of arts and crafts, shots on target at archery, and of course, the community of connectedness shared by all.

Our Opportunity and Challenge

To make the final decisions for having camp in 2024, we must raise $1.5 million by the end of this year. These funds will not only grow a foundation from which to build sustainable support, but also fuel the orchestration of 2024 activities, medical support, and the infrastructure needed to offer these experiences to campers and families at no cost. We are all focused and working hard to secure this needed funding.

Amanda’s legacy and that of her fellow campers calls us to action. With your help, we can ensure that the flame of hope burns brightly for generations to come. Join hands with us as we embark on this transformative journey – a journey that has the power to change lives.

With gratitude and determination,

Matthew Denenberg
Chair – North Star Reach

Updates from Board Chair Matthew Denenberg, July 2023

Hello North Star Reach Community:

Welcome to our Summer update on our journey to Keep the Campfires Burning. Today, we are excited to share critical progress in our pursuit for long-term sustainability in delivering life-changing camp experiences for campers and families.


Through the strength of SeriousFun Children’s Network, our friends at Flying Horse Farms, the SeriousFun camp in Mt. Gilead, OH, welcomed North Star Reach campers and volunteers into their 2023 summer programming. Through this collaboration, more than 35 campers and 10 volunteers, including a group from The University of Michigan Transplant Center’s Camp Michitanki, are enjoying magical, transformational camp experiences this summer.

Fundraising Progress and Opportunities

As reported last month, SeriousFun offered another investment of vital support with a second $100K match. Thanks to so many of you, we met the challenge! Special thanks to The Well Church, Mark- Lis Family, Denenberg Tuffley Law Firm, Edith S. Briskin/SKS Foundation, Carolee Kvoriak, Consumers Energy Foundation, and others who contributed generously.

While our team is just getting started to ensure the resources needed for camp programming in 2024, we are excited and appreciative that our community has raised $400K in just over two months. This vote of confidence from the North Star Reach community, as well as the investment of funds and volunteer time, is helping keep the camp’s mission alive and will have a lasting impact on kids and families.

In addition to the current fundraising initiatives, we continue to build and enhance our infrastructure to achieve our 2023 fundraising and operational goals including: recruiting an experienced fundraising professional; expanding our board and development committee; and, thanks to the generous support of the marketing team at Hatch Stamping, reigniting our social media presence. Interim CEO David Leckey has been actively engaging and collaborating with supporters, non-profit experts, and campily members in our efforts to Keep the Campfires Burning.

If you have skills, ideas, or opportunities that could support us in our endeavors to create sustainability and bringing back life-changing camp experiences kids and families in the region, please contact CEO David Leckey at or you can donate here.