Every summer, campers across the country flood to the nearest Jellystone Park for weekends spent in the great outdoors with beloved Yogi Bear characters—and a fun-filled calendar of events. Most Jellystone Park campgrounds host family-oriented events every weekend, including Christmas in July and Spooktacular Halloween Weekends. In western Pennsylvania, however, Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest hosts a unique weekend of activities in August: Camp to Cure Cancer.
Kathy Quigley, owner of Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest, uses the popularity of her busy campground to raise funds for cancer research. Every August, amidst peak camping season, Kathy and her dedicated team organize family-friendly events to support those effected by cancer, including honoring those who’ve lost their lives to the disease. With a small but dedicated event planning crew of five persons, Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest is able to consistently raise approximately $2,500 per year to support the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) during the weekend.
“We’ve been doing this for years,” Kathy explains. “At first it was just for breast cancer, but we’ve since expanded to raising money for all types. It’s a nasty disease and many people have it. If there’s something that can be done to help it, I want to help.”
Kathy first contacted the National Foundation for Cancer Research about donating her fundraising proceeds in 2013. The NFCR donor relations team has since provided cancer research material such as temporary tattoos, wristbands and t-shirts for the event.
“I asked my sister where she donated her cancer research dollars,” states Kathy. “She gave to the National Foundation for Cancer Research. She had researched them and was happy with them, and the money was split between all kinds of cancer. I decided to donate there as well and I’m very happy with it. It’s a great organization that does good work.”
Though it started off as an event to help others, Camp to Cure Cancer eventually became a personal cause near and dear to the organizer’s heart. When Kathy first introduced the fundraising event, she had not yet had a significant personal experience with a loved one battling cancer. Sadly, after years of fundraising for cancer research, both of Kathy’s sisters have since been diagnosed with cancer.
“One of my sisters was diagnosed with breast cancer just in February,” Kathy says. “She’s in the process of getting radiation, but the cancer is out of her. My other sister had her first bout of skin cancer years ago and just had a second bout. They’ve removed two moles and will keep an eye on her, but as of right now she has a clean bill of health.”
As the event continues to grow, Kathy credits much of the success of Camp to Cure Cancer to the supportive community members who surround the campground. Kathy contacts local business owners asking them to consider donating a basket for a Chinese auction and invites them to sponsor the event t-shirts. The baskets range from home goods to toys, ensuring there is something for campers of any age.
Other events during Camp to Cure Cancer include a simple 50/50 raffle and a 5K Poker Run. The Poker Run is set up as a one kilometer track that participants lap five times. After paying the participation fee, runners (or walkers) receive a playing card at each completed lap. Once the 5K is completed, all participants will have collected five cards and the best poker hand wins a prize.
“The Chinese auction and the t-shirt sales are our biggest money makers,” Kathy shares. “The shirts have sponsors on the back and that has covered the cost of the shirts for the past few years. We sell them for $20 each and that all goes straight to the National Foundation for Cancer Research.”
For anyone interested in contributing to cancer research but feeling overwhelmed or unsure of how to get started, it is important to remember that every penny counts in the fight against cancer. Kathy expresses that her fundraising experience has been humbling, as there are many people who attend Camp to Cure Cancer who have been affected by cancer in some way. The participants are all so thankful to see others do their part in such an extraordinary cause.
To learn more about NFCR, the mission and the scientists, please visit NFCR.org. If you have questions or would like to make a contribution, please call Elaine Currie at 301-961-9139 or e-mail ECurrie@nfcr.org.