Campground Owners of New York (CONY) announced that it has raised $42,416.25 for Camp Good Days and Special Times, a New York State-based organization providing camping experiences to children with cancer.
CONY revealed the tally at a special ceremony on Saturday (Nov. 3) during its 49th Annual Exposition for the Outdoor Hospitality Industry, held at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Water Park in Queenbury, N.Y., according to a news release.
Using a special oversized check, CONY revealed the donation amount to James McCauley, PAVE director for Camp Good Days, who was on hand at the event representing his organization.
By the time of the ceremony, CONY had received a little over $33,000.00 from donations raised by member campgrounds during the summer camping season. Following the Exposition, additional funds were submitted, increasing the donation by thousands of dollars, and bringing the total to $42,416.25, an amount exceeding all expectations for this first-ever CONY fundraiser.
“It was simply overwhelming to be with these wonderful people!” said McCauley. “The fact that this organization was able to raise that amount of money, in such a short amount of time is just fantastic and very much appreciated!”
Representatives of CONY visited the Rochester, N.Y.-based Camp Good Days office on Nov. 7 to present the additional checks to Camp Good Days Chairman and Founder Gary Mervis.
Upon receiving the additional funds and final tally, Mervis said, “I’ve been blessed with a lot of angels in my lifetime, and you guys are angels, too.”
According to Mervis, all of Camp Good Days programs are provided free of charge. In 1979, Mervis’ daughter Elizabeth “Teddi” Mervis was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at the age of 9. Throughout their search for treatment, Mervis realized that loneliness in her illness was also source of pain for his daughter while she dealt with cancer.
Mervis founded Camp Good Days and Special Times, Inc., a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, to provide Teddi and other children with cancer the opportunity to come together in a residential camping experience, to be with the only ones who could truly understand what they were going through – other children with cancer. Since its inception, Camp Good Days has served more than 42,000 campers from 22 states and 25 foreign countries.
This was the first statewide fundraising effort organized by CONY, a trade association with over 200 campgrounds and RV parks in its membership. Matt Anderson, a member of CONY’s board of directors whose family owns Camp Chautauqua in western New York, was instrumental in getting the project off the ground. Anderson took part in the ceremony announcing the fundraising total.
“I was very overwhelmed and surprised how well our first year went considering we were late off the gate, “Anderson remarked. “It shows how in today’s society there are still people that care. Regardless how bad we think we have it, just look around.”
Participating CONY campgrounds sold paper balloons and T-shirts, displayed change collection boxes, and hosted a variety of special events including walks, dinners, raffles, auctions, to name a few. Several campgrounds pledged matching dollars to funds donated by their campers.
The Anderson Family and Camp Chautauqua was the leader of all donors, raising $11,400.00 at their park.
Donald Bennett, Jr., CONY president and CEO, said CONY is already planning its second fundraiser for Camp Good Days in 2013.
“As soon as the check presentation ceremony wrapped up at the Exposition, campground owners were already approaching me to say they were putting events on their calendars for next year. I can’t say enough about the enthusiasm and generosity of our members and their campers who gave from their hearts for Camp Good Days.”
Campground Owners of New York (CONY), headquartered in Pittsford, N.Y., was founded in 1963. CONY is an association dedicated to the promotion, growth, improvement and development of privately owned campgrounds in New York State. More information about the association and its campgrounds – including a free camping directory – is available at www.nycampgrounds.com.