GRAND Magazine - September/October 2018 - 21

cover story

"The best week of their lives" - Paul Newman's
promise to kids with serious illnesses
BY SARAH GURTIS
"A place of dreams, of joy, of possibilities. A camp where children with serious
illnesses and their families can forget the
word 'no' for a little while and embrace the
promise of 'yes.'" This is the positive spirit
behind Camp Boggy Creek, a magical place
co-founded by Oscar-winner Paul Newman
for children ages 7 to 16 diagnosed with
chronic or life-threatening conditions.
I was among the early volunteers for
Paul's camp for seriously ill children located
in Eustis, near Orlando, Florida. In late
1992 I was asked to take on the marketing and branding efforts for what was to
become Camp Boggy Creek. My scheduled
one-hour meeting with the Development
Director lasted nearly four hours, and by the
end of it, I declared myself "all in." Between
then and the ground-breaking in 1994, I
got to create the name and logo, write the
mission statement, and create the marketing materials.

"

"He admitted that he was a little
daunted by what [camp] had
become...it sort of snuck up on
him, one camp at a time."

21 GRAND

SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2018

While serving as the MC for the grand
opening, I looked out over our nearly 1,000
guests (including the General and then Florida
Govenor, Lawton Chiles) in awe of what had
been created and the impact it would have on
countless children and families. To date, more
than 76,000 children and family members
have attended this camp free of charge.
I asked Paul one time if he'd ever actually planned to have so many camps. (The
SeriousFun Children's Network, of which
Boggy Creek was an early part, has grown
exponentially.) He admitted that he was
a little daunted by the scope, what it had
become...it sort of snuck up on him, one
camp at a time.
I think about him often and am so grateful for all the shared experiences and memories. For someone who didn't set out to
create a legacy, Paul Newman certainly left a
great one.
Working directly with Paul and often with his co-founder
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf was inspirational. Along with a
legion of volunteers, a committed staff, and an influential board
of directors, we created a place that felt as though it had existed
forever. By opening day in 1996, volunteers had crafted hundreds
of quilts and handmade "Boggy Bears" to help the children feel
at home and embraced by love. Paul's goal was to give them the
best week of their lives.

Sarah Gurtis is the President & CEO of the
Council on Aging of Volusia County Florida. Her
diverse background includes careers at SunTrust
Banks, International Speedway Corporation
and Camp Boggy Creek, Paul Newman's Florida
camp.

Continued on next page


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GRAND Magazine - September/October 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - September/October 2018

Contents
GRAND Magazine - September/October 2018 - 1
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