A Chapman University freshman is hoping to start a summer camp that supports children who are living with a parent stricken by cancer.
Mitchell Rosenberg was 13 when his father was diagnosed with throat cancer, leaving him reeling with the sobering realization that his dad was not invincible.
"I remember I went to school the day after I found out and sitting there at lunch and just started sobbing," Rosenberg said.
Fortunately, his father survived, and now the 18-year-old Chapman University freshman is hoping to use his experience to help other kids whose parents have cancer.
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Rosenberg and a team of volunteers are trying to win a $40,000 grant for Chapman University to start its own chapter of Camp Kesem, a national string of summer camps for children of cancer patients.
There are more than 70 Camp Kesems across the nation, funded by a non-profit based in Culver City and run by college students. This year, five colleges will be chosen to start their own camps, and Rosenberg hopes to secure one for Chapman.
"Having something like Kesem, where you can go and be in a situation where every single person, they all went through the same thing, it's such a way for these kids to connect with one another," Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg recruited classmate Rose O'Donnell to help him spread the word trying to convince students to vote online to support the idea.
O'Donnell's 16-year-old brother, Quinten, is going through cancer treatment, so she knows firsthand how much it means to have the support of others who understand.
"I did feel alone," she said. "I remember telling my friends, crying to them, and they were like, 'I'm so sorry, this sucks,' but they can't really understand what it feels like. Until it's happening to you, you can't really fathom what it's like."
Camp Kesem gives kids a chance to just be kids again for one week each summer. If Chapman University is selected this year, Rosenberg hopes to expand the program to include monthly outings throughout the year.
"I want to bring this to as many kids as possible, because it's something that I wish I had," he said, "so why not try to spread it as much as I could?"
The national organizing team will chose which five colleges will be given grants to start their own camps on Feb. 11.
Click here to learn more about Camp Kesem.