Children with cancer and their families will have a JCC camp this summer.
The Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia and Sunrise Association announced on March 11 the opening of Horizon Day Camp — Metro DC | VA | MD.
Beginning this summer, the camp, located at the Pozez JCC in Fairfax, will offer day camp activities, year-round programs and in-hospital recreational activities to children with cancer and their siblings. All programs will be free of charge.
The Sunrise Association operates camps in New York, Israel, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Baltimore.
Jeff Dannick, executive director at Pozez JCC, told WJW that the idea of the camp was developed in 2006 by Sunrise Association president and CEO Arnie Preminger. He saw the need for a day camp version of sleepaway camp for children with cancer, because so many kids with cancer cannot go away overnight.
“It was started as a camp that would be funded entirely through philanthropy, because the families who are dealing with pediatric cancer have extraordinary financial challenges in addition to the medical bills and other challenges that they face,” Dannick said.
Dannick said the fundraising goal for the D.C.-area camp is between $500,000 to $1 million. As of March 14, the camp has $250,000 in commitments. The largest single gift to Sunrise Association was $3 million in 2019.
Dannick said the camp will hold a walk to raise money on June 12 at National Harbor.
Horizon Day Camp is non-sectarian, although it is focused on the Jewish community, Dannick said.
“The Jewish community itself is extremely diverse in their beliefs and their priorities,” he said. “So as important as Judaism is as a religion, it is equally important as an expression of values and the way people view community.”
Three positions have been filled so far, Dannick said: Joellen Kriss-Broubalow as camp director, Ilana Adler as registrar and Marcia Sheehan as HorizonWALKS director.
Original plans to open the camp in 2020 were scrapped due to the pandemic. Dannick and his staff were trying to decide whether to open in 2022 or wait until 2023, when a word from Preminger tipped the decision to this summer.
“Every year that we don’t have this camp active in the metro DC community is another year that these campers, their siblings, and their families cannot benefit from this critical program,” Dannick said.