Join us in supporting Team Comfort Zone on March 20!

 

 

April Engram

April’s Fundraising Link

Why is Comfort Zone Camp important to you? / Why do you choose to fundraise for Comfort Zone Camp?

I first got introduced to Comfort Zone Camp by a friend who thought that I would be a great volunteer at a “death camp”.  I’m not sure what that says about me but what I do know is that volunteering with this program has been some of the most rewarding time I’ve ever spent. My assumption was that I was there to help the kids, but the weekends spent at camp have shown me how to communicate and incorporate coping skills into my own life. Most camp weekends I cannot tell which one of us is learning more or having more fun: me or my buddy. I started running seriously right around the time that I started volunteering at camp. Much like camp, running teaches us how to learn, grow and challenge ourselves in ways beyond what we could imagine. Being able to combine my loves by running to raise money for camp is the best of both worlds. Let’s face it, I’m not coming in 1st or winning any awards so if I can make my time on the pavement count for something greater than me, then I’m all for it. I’ll be running the NYC for all of the kids that need an opportunity to grieve, heal and grow.

What does running the United Airlines NYC Half mean to you?

Having an opportunity to run through NYC is magical. I love Broadway, the noise, the street food and the energy of the city. Everyone that I know that has run the NYC Marathon says that there is nothing like the crowd support there. I’m hoping to that the people of NYC will show up and bring that same spirit to the Half. 

Fun fact about yourself 

I once rode on a float in the parade at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

 

Heather Labouy

Heather’s Fundraising Link

Comfort Zone Camps sounded like an awesome idea when I was first introduced in 2013. It wasn’t until 2018, when I finally able to fly to CA and shadow a Healing Circle Leader. Like most campers, I was fairly skeptical coming into the weekend and genuinely wondered how the camp would help kids and teens. Sure, it would be fun and sweet but how would these kids be served in terms of emotional support, coping, and connection? I was probably about 12 hours into the “bubble” when I knew I’d be back. The camps far exceeded my expectations. The organization, seamless transitions, ability to shift and change without any campers noticing, and commitment to creating moments for campers to lean into their grief is unparalleled. My first camp as a Healing Circle Leader on my own I was excited but also terrified. The Big Buddies at Camp Johnsonburg built me up, checked in all weekend, and created space for me to settle in and engage with campers. I am not overstating the impact of CZC when I say those first two camps created a new chapter in my life. I am forever changed by campers, volunteers, and the amazing Comfort Zone staff. 

I’ve always wanted to set a large fundraising goal for Comfort Zone Camps, so I jumped at the chance to get everyone in my life on board with making it happen alongside the United Airlines NY Half Marathon. There aren’t many people who know me who haven’t heard about CZC and now they will all have a hand in supporting future campers. The last couple of years created challenges for maintaining and creating connection. My love for running returned as an integral part of connection and self-care. Being outdoors with an amazing local running group in Seattle is one of the safest and most supportive choices I’ve made since 2020. I am so grateful to be a part of the CZC volunteers chosen to run in the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon because I will be running for 13 miles, sporting my CZC gear and letting everyone along the way know, you’re never alone when you are a part of Comfort Zone. One camp or ten camps, the mark left on the hearts of everyone in the bubble is indelible.

 

Jennifer Campbell

Jennifer’s Fundraising Link

Why is Comfort Zone Camp important to you? / Why do you choose to fundraise for Comfort Zone Camp?

CZC was the first organization where I volunteered in a role that was directly related to my career as a social worker. Since graduate school, I’ve made an effort to volunteer as a healing circle leader at at least one camp every year. No matter how many camps you volunteer for, every single one changes you. I got a taste of “The Bubble” of camp and so genuinely enjoy the comradery of our CZC families and volunteers.

What does running the United Airlines NYC Half mean to you?

I first ran the NYC Half in 2019, to honor my friend who passed away, leaving his wife, 2 daughters, and an unborn son behind. I feel so lucky to be included in the CZC Team this year. In a way, it’s running for him again.

Fun fact about yourself

I rarely ever conduct therapy sessions alone! My fuzzy doxie, Oliver, is a certified therapy dog and has accrued over 1000 hours with clients!

 

Kate Hassenfratz

Kate’s Fundraising Link

Comfort Zone Camp has been in my life for the past 13 years, when I entered my first camp at 7 years old. I am forever grateful to have found such a supportive community after my dad passed away where I can meet kids my age going through similar experiences. Camp has been with me throughout my grieving journey and has taught me that you are never alone.

Not only do you heal when you tell your story, thoughts, and emotions, but they grow stronger together when listening to what others have also been through. Camp has also given me a plethora of coping skills and strategies, running being one of them. Being a native New Yorker, I have always dreamed of running races in the city (where my Dad used to work) and now that I have the opportunity to do it with CZC, I couldn’t be more excited!

 

Kerry Keyes

Kerry’s Fundraising Link

My son’s father died by suicide in 2018; he was 7 years old. Since then, Comfort Zone Camp has been his place to find a community of other kids who share similar experiences, and grieve with kids and caregivers who are there to support him, lift him up, make him laugh, and allow him a safe place to be vulnerable.  I started running a lot after our loss; it was my only time to tune everything out and focus on being present with my breath, my pace, my goals.

I’m running the United Airlines NYC Half to raise funds for an organization that has given so much to me and my son, and to send more grieving kids to a camp where they can do what they can’t do in ‘regular’ life too often after a devastating loss – be their silly, fun, confused, sad and sometimes angry selves, all at the same time. 

 

Mariah Leonard

Mariah’s Fundraising Link

Running the New York Half Marathon has been a bucket list race for me since I got into running. But the opportunity to run it for Comfort Zone Camp is the ultimate gift! 

I first started with CZC in 2008 as a junior counselor. I saw a news story and immediately wanted to sign up as a volunteer. I had to take some time off for college, but the impact of camp was so great that I came back and here I am 14 years later and volunteering with my husband, Kevin. 

If I’m not at camp or talking about camp (I was JUST recruiting a volunteer before writing this), I spend my time working out, loving on my Aussie Shepherd, Ranger, and dreaming about the next place to travel.  I started my fitness journey in 2014 and have consistently challenged myself. I have completed 3 marathons, 1 half marathon, 6 triathlons, and multiple 10ks and 5ks. My resolution last year was to complete 30 races before my 30th birthday and with support from Kevin I accomplished that. 

I cannot wait to complete another race and cross the finish line knowing it was worth it because Comfort Zone Camp is worth it. Worth every step and every mile. 

 

Amy Shapiro

Amy’s Fundraising Link

I’m running the NYC Half Marathon for many reasons: for one of my son’s closest friends and his sister, who lost their father to cancer, and their mom, my friend, who lost her husband… For a longtime friend who suffered the sudden loss of her husband, too – and for her two boys who found support at Comfort Zone Camp last summer. I’m running for my husband, who has drawn from his own childhood experience with loss to be a shoulder those families can lean on – while I’ve wished I could do more.

I’m running for my children – to show them the joy and the rush that comes from setting a goal and reaching it – and to show them that we all have the ability to effect change. I’m doing it for myself: to prove that I can, even at just a few weeks short of 49! And because there is no better motivation to train than the promise of bringing comfort to children who need and deserve it.

I’m running NYC for my student – who introduced me to CZC, when she, herself, was raising funds and awareness for this organization to which she has given her time and her heart. I am grateful to her for inspiring me and others to follow her example.

 

Courtney Toribio

Courtney’s Fundraising Link

Comfort Zone Camp (CZC) is rooted in the philosophy that there is no greater gift in life than helping others. For a child who has experienced the loss of a loved one, CZC is a life-changing experience that connects these inspiring souls with one another, tackling bereavement with empathy, encouragement, and friendship. CZC began in Virginia and expanded into the New York/New Jersey area in 2001. When CZC found a home in New Jersey, my father became a volunteer. Gushing from his rewarding camp weekends, he would often convey the impact the resilient campers had on his life, expressing what most counselors often discover at CZC, ‘I receive much more than I give.’ 

As a teacher of almost 20 years, I have witnessed students undergo the harrowing experience of losing a loved one. The idea of providing these individuals with support through the grieving process became a calling I had to answer. In 2009, I became a part of the CZC family. My first camp was transformative. I was amazed by every person at the camp, from the campers to the nurses, healing circle leaders, volunteers, parents, and founders (Kelly and Lynne Hughes). Every individual made a difference. Every individual cared. From the start of the weekend to the end, I watched children thrive within the supportive community. They were in an environment where they felt safe to talk about loss. To explore their emotions without judgment. To imagine a future where the pain wasn’t at the forefront of their decisions. I knew I had to continue my involvement with the organization, and after several years, I have had the pleasure of watching campers grow into counselors, punctuating the impact that CZC delivers.

 

Laura Hazlett

Laura’s Fundraising Link

I have been volunteering with Comfort Zone Camp for almost 10 years! I was originally introduced to Comfort Zone when one of my closest friends lost her father and was considering volunteering. I was volunteering because I wanted to dedicate my time to these incredible families during the great transition of this new life without their loved one (s). Fast forward to 2019, the year I lost my mom to suicide. I was given the privilege to volunteer at camp in partnership with a Little Hope, one of the many partnership and loss specific camps Comfort Zone provides, for a few years prior to my mom passing. Comfort Zone had prepared me, an adult at that time, how to handle and cope with the struggles that come with grief, particularly a loss by suicide. The community I had formed through Comfort Zone, both the volunteers and the families I have had the pleasure to serve, was my greatest resource during the most difficult time in my life. 

Now I have been granted the incredible opportunity to represent an organization that means everything to me in the 2022 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon! Getting to support and represent the organization that has not only helped me but countless children for OVER 20 YEARS is the greatest honor. Needless to say, getting to combine my love of running and my love for Comfort Zone is a dream come true and I would love to have your support! Comfort Zone’s services are completely free to the families. Being a non-profit, Comfort Zone is powered by the fantastic and staff volunteers but the mission of providing free services to the families relies on donations. I have set my goal to raise a minimum of $1800 for Comfort Zone Camp, which is enough money to send at least three children to camp. Your contribution will help the Comfort Zone Grief Relief running team meet our goal of sending many children who deserve to know they are not alone to camp.

 

Matthew Dimick

Matthew’s Fundraising Link

CZC is important to me, personally, because of the work I do at the hospital. As a pediatric chaplain, I’ve witnessed first-hand a multitude of moments of loss, mourning, and grief that accompany the death of a patient. All of us at the hospital work together to care for families during this time, but all of us wish we could provide so much more to them beyond the hospital walls; we wonder how those families are doing. CZC allows me to be part of the healing that can come after a loss. It reminds me that those I have cared for can also find hope, joy, and a place to express grief in a community of compassion. I choose to fundraise for CZC because it is so important to talk about grief, especially for children. I choose to fundraise for CZC because it is a sacred space where kids can be kids and receive unconditional compassion. And I choose to fundraise for CZC because we cannot control when loss and grief will impact our lives, but we can choose to care for each other.

Running the United Airlines NYC Half means running in a city that I’ve come to call home and taking part of the vibrancy is has to offer. As a child of the navy officer, I moved frequently. This year marks the longest I have ever consecutively lived in one place, and that place is New York City. How exciting it is to run a half marathon in what has become my own “home town!”

Fun Fact: I slept walked a LOT as a child. When I was in third grade, I slept over at a friend’s house and we decided to try staying up ALL night. The next morning I fell asleep and woke up in my own bed. Turned out I had ridden my bike home ALL WHILE ASLEEP.

 

Stacey Bernstein

Stacy’s Fundraising Link

I had never heard of comfort zone camp until this past year. My daughter’s best friends, Dylan and Alexa Levitt, attended the camp after they lost their father to suicide in 2019.  Hearing about the experience they had while at camp was inspiring. They made strong connections with other kids and were surrounded by young people who could share in their in their grief but also in their strength. I had the opportunity to attend the fundraising gala for comfort zone camp back in December 2021. The event was magnificent and raised awareness about the camp. The highlight for me was hearing Dylan Levitt speak at the event. I’ve watched Dylan grow up and all too fast unfortunately. She was poised, mature, funny and inspiring. After listening to her speak I felt I had to do more. I heard about the opportunity to run the NYC half marathon to raise money for comfort zone camp. I quickly applied because every child who needs comfort zone camp should be able to go. I am so grateful for this opportunity. 

Running the half marathon in NYC  is always a thrill for me. This will be my third time tackling this course. Running, for me, is my therapy. It’s my time to be alone with my thoughts. There’s nothing like racing for a charity which I have done many times before. Running for a cause makes It that much more special when training. When I cross the finish line I will be thinking of all of the children who will be able to attend Comfort Zone Camp due to my efforts. It will be a humbling and inspirational experience. I am looking forward to It!

 

 

Do you already have a guaranteed entry?

You are still welcome to join us! For a reduced fundraising commitment, you can join our team, meet great people, and help support grieving children. Email Krista at kcollopy@comfortzonecamp.org to learn more.