SunriseWALKS Long Island raises $800K to help children with cancer attend summer camp
The 17th annual SunriseWALKS Long Island was held Sunday to raise funds for children with cancer.
More than 2,000 people showed up to walk in Wheatley Heights. The goal is to help raise money to send children with cancer and their siblings to Sunrise Day Camp.
This is the first time since the pandemic that the walk has been held fully in person. The participants are cancer patients, survivors and their families and friends.
Those who've experienced the fun and support of Sunrise Day Camp say it played an important part in the healing process.
Tracee Cohen’s 8-year-old son, Austin, first arrived at the camp in 2019 after he was diagnosed with a severe form of leukemia.
Cohen said Austin attended the camp “during his most intense chemotherapy” and explains he couldn’t walk or stand.
“They even have counselors one on one that can help the kids,” Cohen said. “So whatever their needs are, they can do it and it helps brighten their day.”
Austin beat cancer earlier this year. He says his favorite memories from the camp are the basketball courts and the pool.
Twins Jack and Maddie Lewinger, 16, were both diagnosed cancer when they were 2-years-old. Jack spent 13 summers at the camp and will make his return this year as a counselor. He says the camp is the one place where “everyone has something in common.”
“Most of them battled cancer and they all can come here and get away from all their trouble,” explained Lewinger. “This is like people’s happy place.”
Six more camps have opened in the U.S. and Israel by the Sunrise Association. They have helped to provide hope and healing to tens of thousands of children with cancer.
Arnie Preminger, CEO and president of the Sunrise Association, says the magic comes from knowing they are able to provide children with the possibility of experiencing childhood the way other children do.
Organizers say Sunday’s walk has raised more than $800,000, which will enable kids to attend Sunrise Day Camp free of charge.