Camp Care continues to spread positivity in community

Logan Ridenour

Camp Care is an annual program through Cancer Services. Each day of the week children with cancer and their siblings enjoy new activities. Since 2016 Acadian Swamp Tours has been hosting a day of the camp, bringing community members together for a greater cause.

In 2017, Mayor Reeves began donating the Waterfront Park - with the help of the city - and has been doing so ever since. This is just one example of the community outpour to contribute to this special day.

"The first year it was just the two of us and seven volunteers. Now we have 75 volunteers," Daria Ransome, a coordinator of Camp Care said.

Volunteers don't just arrive from Plaquemine. They come from all over the state. "We love the outpouring of kindness and giving from this community," Ransome said.

One of those volunteers is Frank Manguno, a local pastor at Beam of Life Tabernacle.

Manguno and members of the church began volunteering last year. When he heard about the program, he was more than willing to pitch in. "We were glad to help because that's what our mission is, it's to help people. No matter who they are," Manguno said.

Manguno's favorite part of volunteering for Camp Care is the joy he is able to impart on the kids. "The smiles on the babies' faces . . . battling for their lives, and yet when you see them here, their face lights up."

"It brings them out of that world of sickness and lets them be free from that for a little while," Manguno said.

And while he enjoys providing this freedom, one volunteer found this same support from one of the children she helped three years ago.

In 2017, Cher Kelley found herself comforting a young girl at the camp when she was not feeling well. The girl got overheated and had to lie down during some of the events. Despite feeling sick, her smile persevered.

So when Kelley was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2018 she reflected on that day a year prior. " . . . the first memory of anything that came to my mind was her smile," she said. She was following the girl’s progress through her dad.

"If she could beat it, I could too. If she could smile through it, I could too," Kelley said.

Kelley is now in remission and taking preventive chemotherapy until November. She says she often reflects on the impact that young girl had on her life. "I think about her everyday and everything she is going through and has been through. To kind of put perspective on my life and what I need to do, and how I need to face the world for the day."

So on a day where children are the top priority, it is everyone involved who benefits.

For a complete photo gallery of the Camp Care event, click here.