Got a Sweet Tooth and a Big Heart: Attend Camp Mak-A-Dream Benefit Oct 16 at the Somerset Collection
Was honored to write this piece that appeared in the October 9, 2014 issue of the Detroit Jewish News. I hope I did right by the young lady featured in this story, who, attended Camp Mak-A-Dream for three summers. Catherine is now a student at Arizona State. who has become a champion for speaking out and speaking for coping with living with brain cancer.
When Catherine Blotner of West Bloomfield was 17, she underwent a risky brain surgery procedure to remove a benign yet deep and invasive brain tumor that for years was causing seizures and threatened her vision and hearing. The doctors said the surgery could cause permanent speech and cognitive loss, and even the loss of her ability to walk.
Now, Blotner is 19 and a student at Arizona State University studying family and human development. Not only did she keep her ability to speak, she is a blogger and founder of #btsm (brain tumor social media), a monthly Twitter chat open to anyone seeking resources on treating brain tumors. Neurologists and healthcare professionals seek her out for speaking engagements and conferences focused on people coping with brain illnesses. On the back of her business card: her twitter handle – @cblotner, plus a photo of an MRI of her brain.
Her mother, Ann Blotner, attributes her daughter’s confidence, coping strength, and leadership qualities in part to the summers she spent as a camper at Camp Mak-A-Dream – a free camp under the big skies of Montana for children and young adults with cancer. She has been both a camper and a counselor there, including the weeks leading up to her life- altering surgery.
“Through Camp Mak-a-Dream, Catherine has become confident and connected into a supportive network of healthcare professionals as well as a peer group who are going through similar health challenges that have changed their lives,” said Ann.
The Michigan Chapter of FRIENDS OF CAMP MAK-A-DREAM hosts its “sweet” 16th annual “Cookies n’ Dreams” fundraiser 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16 at the Somerset Collection in Troy. Food, beverages, entertainment and activities for all ages will be provided throughout the evening. Admission for adults is $60; children under 17 pay their age and children 3 and under are free. For more information go to Camp Mak-A-Dream
According to Peter Grimes, the organization’s executive director, the long-standing event has attracted “eager sponsors” and area bakers donating hundreds of cookies as well as their confectionary time and expertise to the family-friendly event. The bake-off expects to draw 600 attendees and raise at least $130,000. Funds raised in Michigan pay for the camping and transportation costs for 70 children from Michigan. Grimes added that former campers like Blotner come back to volunteer as young adults and offer support to the campers through talks and workshops.
The camp was founded by Sylvia and the late Harry Granader of Beverly Hills, Mich. Granader owned several McDonald’s restaurants and founded several Michigan-area Ronald McDonald houses. He donated 87 acres of Montana ranch land to build a camp especially created for children and young adults facing life-threatening diseases such as cancer and brain tumors. The camp welcomed its first campers in 1995. Since then it has hosted more than 6000 children and young adults, offering typical camping activities such as swimming, a ropes course, archery, hiking, arts & crafts as well as a state of the art medical center, staff and volunteers to allow the campers to get cancer treatment while they are at camp.
Hadar Granader of Bloomfield Hills wishes to carry on his brother’s legacy of granting sick children a summer out in nature where “no child will feel embarrassed or laughed at because of their illness.”
“Life is especially hard for kids with cancer because they become cut off from everyday life and healthy kids have a hard time relating to them,” Granader said. “At Camp-Mak-a-Dream, children with cancer get to bond and share memories and friendships that help sustain them long after the summer is over.”