20 more campers will be able to attend University of Richmond’s Camp Kesem after another successful Make the Magic event. 

100 people gathered in the Alice Haynes Room on Saturday night for the second annual event, raising close to $10,000 for the UR chapter of Kesem.

Kesem, a non-profit national organization with 100 college chapters across the country, supports children through their parent’s cancer treatment by putting together fun programs for them to participate in.

Camp Kesem is a summer camp for children whose lives have been affected by parents with cancer.

Zach Snelling, RC '17, the co-director of Kesem at UR, has been positively impacted by the campers that Kesem and the Make the Magic event supports.

“Their ability to grow and overcome cancer with this amazing perspective about what truly matters in life is inspiring,” Snelling said. “We learn from them just as much as they learn from us. That’s why I throw myself wholeheartedly into this organization.”

Make the Magic, an event planned by Brittany Woo, WC '18, consisted of cocktails and dinner catered by UR, a paddle raise and a raffle to raise money to reach the organization’s goal of $75,000. This amount would support 90 campers at the weeklong summer camp, Camp Kesem.

Woo and the rest of the Kesem team used social media, their alumni network, invitations and an appearance on television to spread the word about the event.

“I was on CBS 6 the week before spring break,” Woo said. “They asked how people could get involved and that is when I told them about our Make the Magic event coming up.”

Guests of the event included counselors, campers and their familiesand William Wagnon III, the CEO of the Henrico Doctors’ Hospital.

The guests sang camp songs and participated in camp-related activities such as choosing a “camp name,” which is a tradition of Camp Kesem. All of the counselors and campers go by different names, Woo said.

The event also included speeches made by camp counselor Holly Schiltz, WC'19, who spoke about why Camp Kesem is important to her. A 12-year-old camper, Nolan Crawford, also spoke to the crowd.

“Nolan is 12 years old and was all dressed up in a suit and tie,” Woo said. “He gave an awesome speech about why he loves camp and what it means to him.”

After the speeches, the paddle raise took place. Guests could raise their paddles to donate different amounts of money to support campers.

“This was our biggest money maker because we had a bunch of people raise their paddles for $250 and $500,” Woo said. “It was cool to see the support that people had for Camp Kesem.”

Tyler Anderson, RC '19, the development coordinator of Kesem, was a table leader during the paddle raise.

“My job was talking with people at the dinner and providing reasons of how their donation would make an impact,” Anderson said.

At the end of the night the total amount raised was revealed to the guests.

“We raised over $10,000,” Snelling said. “We are still doing some cash donations and checks so we don’t have an exact number. The event was only three hours and had 100 guests, so to raise over $10,000 is an amazing thing.”

This year’s success was an improvement from last year’s first Make the Magic event, which hosted 45 people and raised $3,300.

“I did not attend the event last year, but I will say that a three-time increase in the amount raised is certainly reflective of the growth and increasing strength of our chapter of such an incredible national non-profit organization,” Anderson said.

Meg Helsley, an oncology clinical nurse specialist at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, is an advisory board member of Kesem and helps with the chapter’s outreach efforts. Helsley attended the event and sat at a table with other employees of the hospital.

“I’ve enjoyed watching the students commit to this philanthropic goodness, help mature it, and reach more and more children in our community,” Helsley said. “The Make the Magic charity event this past weekend was a true testimony to the commitment and passion for this cause. The students poured their hearts and minds into it. 

Contact reporter Devon Flinn at devon.flinn@richmond.edu.