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Sunday, November 23, 2014

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Leukemia fundraiser organized by kids

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The Camp Imagine volunteer committee [Sylman Photography]

TORONTO — A recent event for kids, organized by kids, raised $18,000 in support of Imagine a Cure for Leukemia.

Some 500 campers from several summer camps and their families attended the fundraiser Camp Imagine on March 3, at the venue Six Degrees in Toronto.

Campers who are in grades 1 to 8 and their families participated in various activities, including basketball challenges and crafts, at the afternoon event.

 Camp Imagine was the brainchild of 10-year-old Bayley Abrams. Nara Abrams, Bayley’s mother, is the founder and president of Imagine a Cure for Leukemia.

“Bayley is an amazing child with big ideas. She also has a great group of friends who wanted to help,” Abrams said. “For the past few years, Bayley has asked her friends to donate to the charity in lieu of birthday gifts. This year, however, she said she wanted to do more, and the Camp Imagine project was born.”

Bayley and 17 of her friends ages eight through 13 were on the Camp Imagine volunteer committee. They met for several months to plan the event, to write donation request letters and to approach donors.

Seventeen camps participated. They are Walden, Robin Hood, Manitou, Timberlane, Bayview Glen, Westcoast Connection, Active Kids Zone, the Jack & Pat Kay Centre, Adventure Valley, Elite Basketball, Wahonowin, Zodiac, Winnebago, Crestwood Valley, Tamakwa, Tamarack and White Pine.

Each camp had its own booth at the event featuring an activity for children, and there was also a tuck shop with snacks, a raffle, a camp social hosted by Sole Power Productions and a live performance by rising star Sydney Bernkopf. The venue, food and entertainment were all donated.

One of the activities at Camp Imagine was at the letter-writing station. “When children go to overnight camp they write letters to their families,” Bayley said. “I thought it would be very special to write a letter to kids who are ill at the SickKids Hospital.”

The afternoon concluded with campers gathering for a bonfire where the official Camp Imagine song was showcased. The song was written by 10-year-old Jayden Shnier, who is on the Camp Imagine volunteer committee.

Mark Diamond, owner and director of Camp Manitou, said that “to create a ‘camp for the day’ in the city for such an important and significant cause is simply brilliant. To have an event for kids, run by kids, to help find a cure for a disease that, unfortunately, in some way, touches us all, allows us to empower our youth in the best possible way.”

Abrams said her late mom, Miriam Segal, was her inspiration. “I was touched by her optimism when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Every time we have an event, we honour people we know that are fighting this disease, and in the memory of my mom and grandfather.

“We raised $80,000 at our first gala back in 2006, and our fundraising initiatives have since expanded. To date we have raised $800,000 for leukemia research.”

Abrams added that the group’s goal for Camp Imagine was not just to raise funds but also to encourage kids to get involved with philanthropy and to continue raising awareness of leukemia. “It was inspiring to watch the future generation,” she said.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada says that this year 5,600 Canadians will be diagnosed with leukemia and 2,600 will die from it. Leukemia is the most common pediatric cancer affecting those age 19 and under.

“The funds raised by Camp Imagine will be used to fund lifesaving cancer research. We want cures today, not someday. That’s the goal. The commitment from Imagine a Cure for Leukemia has truly brought us closer to a world without cancer,” said Andrea Swinton, executive director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, Ontario region.

For more information, go to www.imagineacureforleukemia.com.

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