CHICAGO — We all could use a break from routine at times, but for kids battling cancer, that need is even more critical.
WGN’s Erin Ivory had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with these campers and get a glimpse into what makes Camp One Step so special.
Some travelled for days to come to the camp; a place where you don’t have to explain to be understood.
“Cancer makes you feel different and that difference can really start defining you,” said Jeff Infusino, the president of Camp One Step. “Camp gives you the opportunity to not feel different anymore.”
Robert Quintana remembers that feeling vividly when he was a camper fifteen years ago.
“I was just six years old when I was diagnosed with Leukemia,” Quintana recalled. “Being here was one of the only things that made me feel normal.”
Of the 400-plus volunteers, one in four is a former camper and cancer survivor, like Quintana, here because they remember what camp meant for them.
“There is no other place I’d rather volunteer than here where I can give back to the same kids,” Quintana said.
Over the last 40 years, the organization has served more than 19,000 kids, with free year-round camps in Chicago, on top of summer adventure camps, dude ranches in Wisconsin, and even ski camps in Utah.
“Parents will tell us, ‘thank you for giving our child back. They’re laughing, happy and believing again!'” Infusino said.
At the end of the day, friendships and bonds are forged knowing they are not alone because someone else has walked the road ahead, and has returned to walk alongside them.
“That’s what we do,” Infusino said, with a smile. “we give back.”