Children affected by cancer enjoy weekend of camping with family

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Sunday, October 2, 2022
Children affected by cancer enjoy weekend of camping with family
Kids like 10-year-old Hayden Lawrence got to become carefree campers after years of battling cancer.

CAPE MAY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- "Very often, when a cancer diagnosis comes, the bills come and family vacations just are not possible," said Susan Olstad, Regional Director of Camp Quality USA.

Camp Quality USA and its 17 branches across the country are dedicated to creating interactive opportunities for kids affected by cancer. They also extend the invitation to members of their family, which are often fighting right alongside their little warriors.

Such was the case for Camp Quality New Jersey's first family fun weekend hosted at Sun Retreats Seashore in Cape May. Over the past few days, 17 families came to enjoy sitting by the bonfire, swimming in the pool, and playing minute-to-win-it games.

"I was really able to, like, connect with a lot of them and talk with them," said 10-year-old Hayden Lawrence. "And I got to know that I wasn't the only one."

8 years ago, the young girl from Howell Township was diagnosed with cancer.

"Hayden was experiencing leg pain, some bloody noses," said her mother, Lindsay. "That's when we found out that she had a positive leukemia diagnosis."

The family rallied behind Hayden, constantly saying, "You got this!" And through all the struggles, Hayden emerged cancer-free five years ago.

But while the doctor's visits have been minimized, the worry never truly goes away.

"A lot of times, after our kids are done with cancer treatment and the hair grows back and all those things, I feel like the kids get forgotten about a little bit," said Lindsay. "And this is something they continue to do, like, year after year and they build companionships and relationships."

The Lawrence family was grateful for the weekend getaway, which was free to all families thanks to donors and volunteers.

"They have medical people here, they have anything that you need here. And you don't have to stress about spending time with your family," said William Lawrence, Hayden's father. "We talked about camping like this for years and we just never did, never could. Now, we're here and this is something that's fantastic."

To learn more about Camp Quality New Jersey's upcoming events and volunteer opportunities, visit their website.

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