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Observer Summer Camp Fund raises more than twice 2014 total

Jamir Easter smiles as he paddles his kayak during a session with the Urban Outdoor Connection Camp at McDowell Nature Preserve in July. Jamir attends the camp through Methodist Homes Recreation Center and is a recipient of a Summer Camp Fund Scholarship.
Jamir Easter smiles as he paddles his kayak during a session with the Urban Outdoor Connection Camp at McDowell Nature Preserve in July. Jamir attends the camp through Methodist Homes Recreation Center and is a recipient of a Summer Camp Fund Scholarship. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Considering the widespread need, it’s only natural that we always strive to outpace the prior year’s giving to the Observer’s Summer Camp Fund.

But this year, determined to send many more deserving children to camp, our contributors blew right past that benchmark. They then amazed us by more than doubling the all-time record amount raised last year.

As of Friday, readers had donated $394,525, up 146 percent from 2014. That ensures that hundreds more children can now afford to experience the joys of summer camp.

Credit for such a successful campaign goes largely to this year’s honorary chair. Rick Hendrick, who is passionate about introducing the great outdoors to children from low-income families, as well as children with special needs, decided the 2015 campaign could not only beat last year’s record. He decided it could raise much more – then went to work to make it happen.

We also got a strong assist from The Leon Levine Foundation, a partner with the Summer Camp Fund since it began six years ago. The foundation offered to match every dollar exceeding last year’s total, up to $20,000. We are grateful that the rest of you more than met that challenge!

So many who support the fund know from personal experiences that summer camp helps shape young lives. I cherish the camp stories my own two children bring home. Pushed out of their comfort zones, they accomplish more than they could have imagined. They rediscover the joys of nature. And they learn the value of reaching out to make new friends.

A mother wrote a letter of thanks to the fund for enabling her daughter, who has special needs, to attend Camp Trusted Parents.

“It is an honor to give my child the privilege of continuing to be part of the social world,” she wrote. “I have been searching for a camp like this where she would be comfortable and treated as an individual with special needs.”

It’s an honor for me to report to you that the good work continues. Since 2009, the fund has sent 1,625 children to camp. Your faithful support means hundreds more can now go. Thank you for making the difference in the lives of so many!

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