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Night at the Museum showcases the magic of Camp Kesem

On Saturday, March 8, the Field Museum was full of fun and laughter as families joined to support the magic of Camp Kesem. The Night at the Museum was the second annual fundraiser which benefited Camp Kesem. Camp Kesem is a charity that sends children, who's parents are affected by cancer, to camp.

Night at the Museum benefiting Camp Kesem
Dawid Klimek
Camp Kesem benefit, Night at the Museum
Cristine Struble

Camp Kesem recognizes and embraces the often-overlooked population of children affected by a parent’s cancer. Camp Kesem provides a unique peer-based support system, anchored in a network of free summer camps that are led by passionate college student volunteers across the country. This year, over 1,500 college students will work year-round to provide life-changing experiences to over 3,500 children.

This charity fundraiser is unique because the evening is for the whole family. Children and parents come together to explore the Field Museum, enjoy a camp experience and support a worthy charity. This year's event hosted 1000 guests and volunteers. $500,000 was raised for the charity, which will send 750 kids to camp this summer.

The evening's event started with a scavenger hunt in the Field Museum. Children and parents used clues to explore various exhibits. Upon completing the scavenger hunt, children were awarded with a prize.

After the hunt, children proceeded downstairs to check into camp. Children, divided according to school grades, were off to an evening of adventure. The children enjoyed a camp dinner, explored the Underground and completed a variety of crafts. Special guest, Megan Ervin Miss Illinois 2012, took Smile Booth pictures with the kids. Miss Illinois's charity is Camp Kesem.

While the children where playing, parents took the opportunity to enjoy a dinner and fundraiser. A live auction gave attendees the opportunity to bid a variety of once in a lifetime experiences. From a trip to Napa Valley to on the field Chicago Bears experience, guests bid and out bid each other with a worthy cause benefiting from the funds raised.

The event honored Dara and Richard Levy for their incredible contributions to Camp Kesem and included remarks from Camp Kesem’s CEO, Jane Saccaro and Camp Kesem Counselor and Camper, John Groden. Each speaker has been directly impacted by the mission of the camp. From John Groden's description of his childhood camp experience to Richard Levy's generous matched donations at the $1,000 level up to $30,000, the cost of opening one new camp in honor of Dara’s late husband, the magic of bringing a child the joy of camp was understood by all who attended.

The highlight of the evening with the final fundraiser, a paddle raise. Various attendees raised their auction paddles to donate funds for children to attend a Camp Kesem camp. One attendee raised $1000 through year long garage sales. This parent, whose children have attended the camps over the years, sells donated items via garage sales, Craigslist and Bookoo as a way to give back to the organization which benefited her children. The smile on her daughter's face when she raised her paddle to donate was priceless. This high school girl understood the gift that she was giving other children.

For more information on Camp Kesem and its charitable mission, please visit the Camp Kesem website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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