Kevin’s story begins with his diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the fall of 1985. Kevin was an active teenager involved in high school sports, music, and having fun hanging out with his friends.
All of those so called normal things came to an abrupt end during a visit to his family doctor for what he and his family thought were simply symptoms of a common cold. The symptoms that would any other winter go away this time did not and prompted the doctors to perform a biopsy. His results were positive for malignant cancer of the lymph system.
Kevin’s life changed drastically at that point, and he began a regimen of chemotherapy treatments. These treatments consisted of IV push chemo, which in the 80’s was somewhat common practice. Over the next 6 months, the doctors saw positive signs in Kevin’s cancerous lymph nodes reducing in size. The doctors were pleased with his results and issued him in remission in the summer of 1986.
It was while having chemo treatment in Lancaster General Hospital that Kevin heard about a camp for children with cancer. This camp was somewhat new and only 4 years into its operation but had a great message of hope and inspiration for Kevin. The camp's name was called Camp-Can-Do.
“Camp Can-Do was my 1st camp in 1986. I had just finished my last round of chemotherapy at the end of June. In late summer I went to Camp as a counselor. The 1 week format was great in that it enabled the kids to have a solid week to get to know other kids as well as giving them the opportunity to feel normal for a week without the hospital visits and appointments. Camp Can-do enabled me as a counselor to be a part of something that was larger than myself and that any one person could do on their own to help kids dealing with cancer. Camp Can-do changed me forever.”
“Later in my life I became a counselor at Camp Okizu in northern California. Camp Okizu is also a special place and fulfilled in me the same experiences that Camp Can-Do had. Camp Okizu is now my home camp being that I live in California and one that helps kids dealing with cancer in the same mission and commitment as Camp Can-Do"
"As a counselor my time at camp was filled with a busy schedule working with staff to make the kids time at camp the best experience possible. I was assigned to an older boys (16 and 17 yrs old) cabin and it was an incredible experience to see them grow and mature. Seeing the older boys watch out for and take care of the younger kids was special. One of the most memorable times I can recall was seeing a fellow counselor whom had lost her leg to cancer connect with a camper that was struggling emotionally with her own diagnosis. Seeing that connection was priceless."
"Being a childhood cancer survivor myself, becoming a counselor was a calling to help kids to feel normal. To show them what beating cancer can look like, and give them hope for their future."
Kevin then took his mission one step further -- many steps further.
Kevin decided to walk across America pushing an IV pole starting from the Manhattan Beach Pier in Manhattan Beach, California and finishing at the Boston Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. The journey was approximately 3,300 miles of dirt, stones, blacktop, and concrete and took over 7 months to complete.
Kevin’s IV Pole was created to raise awareness and funds to support childhood cancer care and treatment programs throughout the United States. Programs such as childhood oncology camps are a main focus of our mission to bring awareness and provide funding to assist these camps in making the best camp experience possible for their campers. Kevin’s’ IV Pole is symbolic of one’s personal journey to struggle, fight and beat cancer.
As the final act to this journey, Kevin left his IV pole in Boston as a symbol of being free from not only the IV pole, but chemotherapy treatments and ultimately cancer. He hopes to make the journey back across the country walking with his IV pole in 2021 to raise even more funds to support oncology camps!
Find out more at koacarecamps.org