“If You Look for Good, You Will Find It.” | Coach Slow
Back in October, we officially embarked upon this mission to shine a spotlight on good people doing great things.
Since then, it has become more apparent every day that we have struck a deep well. We’ve had opportunity to speak with those who have been dealt the worst, but have chosen to instead give their best in return. This has been an extraordinary journey.
We hope our friends, family, clients, and co-workers will continue to connect us with those who dedicate this precious life to help support the lives of others. If you have a story to share, please let us know.
Now I’d like to tell you a little bit about one of the World’s Greatest Dads.
We would easily need a six-part series to cover what Gary Mervis has accomplished, and to share the story of what inspired him to launch Camp Good Days.
In 1979, his nine-year-old daughter Teddi was diagnosed with cancer. Gary conducted an exhaustive search to find her treatment. He then realized:
It was not the craniotomy, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy that was causing Teddi the most pain, but it was the loneliness of being the only child in her school and neighborhood dealing with cancer.
Being in and out of the sterile environment of the hospital also added to her exclusion. There was nothing “normal” about Teddi’s life. Back in those years, there were no true provisions for camps to accommodate children with unique medical needs. In addition to that, the notoriously high costs of healthcare added a financial burden for most families; often making it impossible for them to get quality time away on any kind of vacation.
This singular need born and built on the experience of his daughter is the foundation of Camp Good Days. According to Gary:
It gives a child that special part of their life back that cancer steals from them.
Camp Good Days is a place where they make friends, find new courage, and get a little independence from the rigors of their treatments. This is a place where their condition is not the focus of their day; being a kid is.
Accredited by the American Camp Association, volunteers and community members support this not-for-profit organization. Accepting children from all over the world, campers have visited from over 30 countries and half the United States (some 46,000 children) to participate in the 5-day/4-night camp sessions. Children who have stayed at Camp Good Days are not only cancer patients, but those who are legally blind, deaf, in wheelchairs, with prosthetics, and with learning disabilities.
There are no costs to the families. Operating expenses are 100% covered by donations of time and money, tons of creative drives to raise financial support, and through the generosity of sponsorships.
As a coach at St. John Fischer College, Gary Mervis established the Courage Bowl in 2004. It has become their largest fundraising source. Each year, the St. John Fisher College Cardinals and The College at Brockport Golden Eagles square off in a Division III football game to benefit Camp Good Days.
Camp Good Days then selects honorary coaches and cheerleaders for both teams. These are Camp Good Days campers who have been diagnosed with cancer and would not normally be allowed to experience a real football game. The Camp Good Days Courage Bowl gives these campers that opportunity.
The event is concluded with the awarding of the Teddi Trophy in honor of Gary’s daughter. The trophy gets inscribed with the date of the game, final score, names of the six Honorary Coaches and the names of one player from each team who displays exceptional leadership and sportsmanship.
Camp Good Days has become, as Gary Mervis says, “A celebration of life by people who have learned to appreciate it most.”
Camp Good Days and Special Times, Inc. is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, adults and families whose lives have been touched by cancer and other life challenges. All of the programs and services provided by Camp Good Days are offered free of charge for the participants, which is only possible through the generosity of so many individuals and organizations and the success of our many special fundraising events.