This morning in Toronto the Sporting Life 10 K takes place supporting Kids With Cancer. The run will help send kids to Camp Oochigeas this summer as well as provide year round programs in Toronto and in the community.
For the kids that deal with cancer on a daily basis Camp Oochigeas can make a huge difference. Each year about 680 children take part in the programs that cost the family nothing.
The naming of the camp has a special meaning to the kids who attend. Oochigeas is a local legend about a young girl who overcame physical hardships with courage and determination, just like the kids who attend each year.
In 1983 Mary Pat Armstrong, Dr. Doug Biggar, Jeanne Gallagher, Peter Miller, and Judy Tripp founded the camp with the first 30 kids attending in 1984 for one week. Within a year the program had expanded to two weeks and doubled the kids attending to 63.
Camp Ooch, as the kids call it, moved into SickKids Hospital in Toronto in 1993 with Ooch-Too-Nite.
This year Camp Ooch secured a long-term lease at 464 Bathurst Street. Having the downtown space for kids is important. Only 20 percent of children that are diagnosed with cancer will attend the residential camp during the summer, some are too young, too sick or afraid of being away from their parents. The new space allows all children facing cancer to have the Camp Ooch experience right in the middle of downtown Toronto.
When the space is completed there will be rock climbing, hockey, basketball and gardening. A treatment room will let the kids play while their medical needs are being tended.
Camp Ooch is inside Sick Kids Hospital too! Each day there are bedside activities for the kid in their hospital rooms and group activities in a special playroom. When children are too sick to leave the hospital they can stay enjoy special activities and visits like movie premieres.
Today's run isn't the only fund raiser for the program. Year round groups work to keep the program running. On April 28 police officers from around the Greater Toronto Area were at Le Treport Banquet Centre for Ringside for Kids. This year's event will be donated in memory of Sgt. Ryan Russell who lost his life this January in the line of duty and Cst. Artem “James” Ochakovsky plus all of the brave men and women who are “heroes in life not death”.