Camp Sunshine awards 39 alumni with college scholarships

“Having cancer was obviously a very difficult time. However, one unabashed silver lining of the whole experience was to see the depths that people cared, and the communities that supported my family and me, like Camp Sunshine. It’s very easy to be cynical about the state of humanity nowadays, but I think there are times when we can and do rise above fear and sadness, and I saw that every day with the people I met at Camp. So, I want to be able to return the favor within my adult life. I want to be conscientious and compassionate in my career, just like others have been throughout my childhood.” – Anna, a childhood cancer survivor

As we begin Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I am inspired by the many children and families I have met in the 45 years I have worked in the field of pediatric oncology. I have witnessed great strides in treatments and survival rates. I have felt heartbreak and frustration. I have also known miracles and been privileged to work alongside the most extraordinary parents, children, and professionals. I am proud that for almost 40 years, Camp Sunshine has created a space where children with cancer can find hope, friendships, and a community of support during the most difficult of times.

“Cancer eats away at more than just one's health; it eats one's identity. Camp Sunshine, on the other hand, helped me restore my self-confidence, dignity, and identity. When I was at camp, I wasn't just a sick boy who couldn't do something or that ‘poor kid’ with cancer that everyone felt sorry for––I was a strong person who could do hard things and accomplish his dreams. I felt the support and care of the whole camp and I knew I could change the world, even if only one person at a time.” - David

“Cancer is no easy illness to manage, especially as a child, but Camp Sunshine helped me make so many friends, memories, and future professional relationships. I've always known my purpose in life was to give back to communities and people that have given me so much in aspects of my health and wellness. And now being at Emory's School of Nursing and working with patient populations in hospitals, I constantly feel fulfilled daily by caring for patients.” - Caitlin

I continue to be inspired by the strength and determination of so many childhood cancer survivors who are dedicating their lives to giving back to our community. Camp Sunshine has recently supported 39 of our alumni with college scholarships, including Anna, David, and Caitlin. Many are choosing to enter the healthcare profession as nurses, doctors, researchers, and child life specialists. Others are pursuing their given talents and passions in a variety of fields. But a common thread is their desire to make a positive impact in the community.

That desire to pay it forward was borne in large part out of their experience as a Camp Sunshine camper. We know that the magic of camp changes the lives of the children who pass through our gates. But what these scholarship essays show me, is that the imprint that camp leaves on these special young people has the power to change the world too. And we will be cheering them all on as their biggest fans.