“Another year, another success” seemed to be the theme last Thursday night, Feb. 21, 2008 at the Camp Abilities Benefit Concert. Sykes Student Union buzzed with students ready and willing to support this year’s Camp Abilities Sports program, a camp that gives children who are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports and recreational activities. In addition to hearing great local bands, enjoying free pizza, and winning prizes, the concert helped raise an amazing amount of money and it could not have happened without fifth year student, Andrew Silverman.Silverman came up with the idea of a benefit concert to support Camp Abilities last year and sought the aid of Phi Epsilon Kappa as well as Dave Timmann, director of Sykes Student Union and Sykes After Dark. Always there for advice was Dr. Monica Lepore, an adapted physical education professor and creator of Camp Abilities PA. After bringing in over $1400 last year, Silverman did not hesitate to hold the concert again.
“It means a lot to me that Camp Abilities is succeeding and expanding,” Silverman said. “I’m happy that I can hold an event, not just because I love music but also because this is something that I’ve spent so many hours doing and I’m so passionate about.”
The concert featured a bands from a variety of genres including rock, punk, pop and even hip-hop funk. The bands included The Flood, A Farewell Rescue, The Basement Project and returning from last year, Ritter and Enstride. The bands dedicated their time to support this great cause and clearly enjoyed working the crowd of eager supporters. The Bouncing Souls, one of the better known punk bands and a Warped Tour staple, were originally going to try to play. Unfortunately, because of time constraints they were not able to make it work. Still wanting to show their support, however, they had their merchandise auctioned off at the show.
This will be the camp’s third year and it has already received so much positive reception from not only the parents but the children themselves.
Just recently, Lepore received a picture of nine-year-old and very shy Billy, a two-year camp participant. In the picture Billy was holding a yard sale sign and on the back it noted that Billy sold all of his old toys to raise money for Camp Abilities. This is just one example of the impact that Camp Abilities is having on these children with disabilities. The benefit concert only helps these miracles to continue.
“I had no idea that the benefit concert was going to raise that much money last year,” Lepore stated. “We have to try to figure out how to make the camp bigger and better. The kids are really teaching our students a lot.”
Camp Abilities PA will be held here at West Chester University Memorial Day weekend and will include a new event, tandem biking, in addition to track and field, swimming and so much more. Thursday, the Camp Abilities benefit concert raised $1200. Third-year student Wayne Fulmer was among the students present at the concert and shared his feelings of support.
“Tonight helps students at West Chester become aware that there’s a place kids can go to forget about their disabilities for a while.”
Together, Silverman, Lepore and all those involved definitely helped to continue this tradition and they certainly couldn’t do it without the support from the WCU community.
Courtney Conigliaro is a second-year student at West Chester University majoring in communications. She can be reached at CC638393@wcupa.edu.