The story of Eric’s Camp Fund features Paul Newman, but really, he has a supporting role. It begins in the summer of 1988 with a young man named Eric Druten. After battling cancer since age 10, Eric was one of the first campers to experience the magic of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Connecticut. This haven for children with serious illnesses was created by Paul Newman so they would have a place to hang out, forget they’re sick and just be kids.
Here’s the kind of person Eric was. When he returned from camp, he told his parents that he didn’t feel right being the only one to experience this great place. So he and his family asked the camp to hold spots for a group of kids from Kansas City, and he was determined to figure out a way to bring them back with him the next year. And Eric’s Camp Fund began. Now 25 years later, because of Eric’s thoughtfulness, compassion and generosity, a group of 15 children from University of Kansas Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital continue to fly to Connecticut each summer to share this incredible camp experience.
Eric’s legacy goes way beyond the campers he has touched by allowing them to experience The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. It has spread all over the Kansas City area through the many counselors and volunteers who have shared the experience. And he touched the grateful families of the campers as they watched their children come home full of renewed energy.
The Good Cheer program
A new program will allow even more families from the Kansas City area to be touched by Eric’s dream of making life brighter for kids battling serious illnesses. Modeled after a program developed by the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Good Cheer will take fun projects, games and special events to the kids in the hospital much like the great activities they would experience at camp. And the best part is that this fun will go on year-round. Volunteers will visit the kids in their rooms, activity centers, or clinics where they receive outpatient treatments. We are very fortunate to be working with Children’s Mercy, Kansas University Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.
Be part of Good Cheer!
This is the most amazing volunteer opportunity in town because you’ll get to hang out with some incredible kids. You can volunteer on a regular basis or whenever it fits into your schedule. You can go to the kids, bed-to-bed, or work with a small group. You can also sign up to be called for special events – spa day for the caregivers, Family Bingo Night, barbecue at Ronald McDonald House, and much more.
Your financial contributions will help get this program up and running. In addition, we’re also looking for craft supplies – maybe some items at home left over from craft projects. And if you run into a sale on duct tape or markers or feathers – we’d love that, too!
For more information, call Patsy Shawver at 913-221-6914.