At first glance, Sunrise Day Camp seems like your typical day camp on Long Island. However, it's not the infrastructure of the camp that sets it apart from the other day camps, it's the kids that inhabit its borders.
Sunrise Day Camp is the only day camp on the East Coast designed for kids with cancer. And over the weekend, Arron Asham joined Sparky and the Ice Girls to visit the beautiful campus on the Nassau-Suffolk border.
Asham shared a smile with the dozens of 3-16 year-olds who flooded the 300-acre Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds. The Islanders' right wing toured the camp before signing autographs for the kids, who huddled around him in droves.
"It's great to be out in the community and spend time with these kids," said Asham. "It's inspiring to see them going about their daily lives with so much joy. I was telling some of them as they came up to me that with hard work, you can overcome anything."
Also on hand were the Ice Girls and Sparky, who were, naturally, hits. When the kids weren't participating in the Islanders slapshot booth or winning prizes they could be seen surrounding Sparky and snapping pictures with the Ice Girls.
Taking a look around the camp, the kids were scattered about, enjoying themselves on the rock climbing wall, in the arts center or taking a leisurely ride in the trolley that circled the campus.
"This is such a special place," said Arnie Preminger, the Sunrise Day Camp Executive Director. "Here kids with cancer can go about their lives knowing that everyone here is behind them. Today has been extra special because the Islanders were here, and it's been terrific."
While the camp has many of the usual accessories that a regular day camp possesses, it also has a special medical facility, allowing it to house kids that are going through difficult times, such as radiation treatment.
"This camp gives these kids an opportunity to not feel ostracized and play with other kids who are going through the same problems," said Camp Director Michelle Vernon. "This is a wonderful organization to support, and we're glad the Islanders are part of it."
To learn more about Sunrise Day Camp, please visit their website at http://www.sunrisedaycamp.org