Sunrise Scoop - April 2023

Sunrise Highlights

We are so grateful to all of our donors who make our mission possible.

From Campers to Counselors – Paying It Forward  

Doing regular childhood things – like going to school – was incredibly difficult for Hina Zahid when she was very young. Hina had battled a brain tumor twice – first at the age of 2 and then again after relapsing when she was 9. That’s when Hina found Sunrise Day Camp–Long Island, and the experience was life-changing.  

“Sunrise offered me an immediate safe space,” Hina explained. “It wasn’t about treatment or cancer – it was about having fun.” When Hina aged out of the camper program, she came back the following summer as a counselor and has served in that important role ever since. “I wanted nothing more than to give back to the greatest place on earth and help other kids experience the same magic as I did.”   

Like Hina, many former campers are helping us continue to make that Sunrise magic. This past summer, there were almost 50 Sunrise Association counselors who had once been campers. It’s not surprising that the older camps have seen more campers transition to the counselor role, and, as Sunrise continues to grow, we can expect to see many more at all locations.   

Deanna Slade, Vice President of Camping and Related Services and the Director of Sunrise Day Camp–Long Island, observes that many of our campers-turned-counselors share similar feelings about why they come back. “These kids have had such an incredible and impactful experience at Sunrise that they want to pay it forward to other kids,” said Deanna. “The campers-turned-staff have seen their counselors as their role models and want to give back to our current campers. It’s really special.”   

These campers-turned-counselors have first-hand connections to cancer, and often express to Deanna that it’s “interesting to be on the other side” of the camping experience. “These counselors spend a lot of time reflecting back to when they were campers,” said Deanna, and often exhibit qualities that make them successful in the counselor role. These qualities include being compassionate, hard-working, thoughtful, creative, dedicated, and good team players.   

Returning as counselors also allows former campers to remain active in the Sunrise community. Alis Almonte started Sunrise Day Camp–Pearl River as a camper in 2018 and became a counselor in 2021. “Sunrise Day Camp has become my safe space,” said Alis. “There is no place I feel more comfortable in my skin than in the campgrounds at Sunrise Day Camp–Pearl River.”   

Nathaniel Blades, 19, has been at Sunrise Day Camp–Long Island for the past 14 summers. His twin brother, Elijah, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) right before their fifth birthday. Nathaniel shared that he returns as a counselor to give back to others and to stay connected.  

“When my brother and I were campers, Sunrise gave us an opportunity to have a summer and not worry about cancer or treatments. I wanted to give back and give an opportunity for other campers to enjoy their summer,” he said. “There’s no question that I’ll continue working for/with Sunrise. Sunrise is like home, and I never want to leave my family.”   

Find this story and more in the Sunrise Association 2022 Impact Report!

SunriseWALKS is Growing – and Going!

Welcome, Suzanne!
The SunriseWALKS Team is thrilled to introduce our new National Walkathon/Peer-to-Peer Director, Suzanne Beck. Suzanne has spent 10 years stewarding donors, leaders and volunteers, maintaining the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s “Take Steps” walk as a Top 5 event in the nation. We’re excited to have Suzanne now leading the SunriseWALKS team as we kick off the 2023 WALKS season this spring! AuroraWALKS got us started on April 15. Next up is HorizonWALKS Metro DC on May 21, SunriseWALKS Staten Island on June 4 and SunriseWALKS Long Island on June 11. In addition, our first annual Go For Gold Event to benefit Sunrise Day Camp–Greater Philadelphia will be held on May 7. Check out our National WALKS Page to register, donate, volunteer and learn more about any of our upcoming WALKS. We Walk So They Can Soar!

Run with Team Sunrise

We are excited to announce that Team Sunrise is an official partner in the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon! We are looking forward to joining forces with the running community to continue our adventure into marathons – and we are looking for runners to join us in raising money for Sunrise. If you or someone you know is interested in running this marathon or would like to be considered to run for Sunrise in other marathons, please email or visit the Team Sunrise page for more information. Bibs are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. 

SUSA Cares for SunriseWALKS

On Friday, May 5, SUSA Cares is hosting its third annual WALK to benefit Sunrise Day Camp–Long Island. Last year, the Long Island soccer academy raised over $60,000, sending 10 children to Sunrise Day Camp–Long Island in 2022. This year, the group’s goal is to raise another $50,000+ to send more children to Sunrise in 2023.  

SUSA FC is Long Island’s largest soccer academy, with soccer programs for kids ages 2 to 18. In addition to youth programs, SUSA FC has a Women’s Professional Soccer League team hosted at their own facility, and the largest youth-soccer complex on Long Island. To learn more about SUSA and its philanthropy branch, SUSA Cares, please visit: 

SUSA Cares – rain or shine!

Larry’s Magic

Larry made an XL Vodka Sunrise as the signature cocktail for our first SunriseLIVE! virtual event.
Have you ever wondered who’s behind the special look and sparkle of Long Island’s annual Friends of Sunrise (Cocktail Party & Auction) event? The credit goes to Larry of Lawrence Scott Events. Yes, that Larry – the Larry whose creative parties people love to attend!   For the past 10 years, Larry has generously donated his design and décor to Friends of Sunrise. “I believe in supporting people who support my work,” said Larry, “and when I realized what Sunrise was about, I couldn’t say no!” Larry supports many organizations and events in addition to Sunrise, including Make-A-Wish, the Feinstein Institute, Northwell Health’s Summer Hamptons Evening (SHE), UJA’s Summerfest and Memories Matter for Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.  What can we expect for the look of this year’s Friends of Sunrise, which is on May 10 at Glen Head Country Club? “Color! Post-pandemic I feel very colorful – not really black and white,” Larry shared, adding that, “I’m not an event planner, I’m a storyteller. There’s a beginning and there’s an end; it’s classy, not trashy; it’s how it’s put together, not just generic.” Click here to get your Friends of Sunrise tickets and experience Larry’s magic for yourself!

Honoring Women

Women Front and Center honoree and Sunrise Day Camp–Staten Island mom, Gabriella DiMaggio, celebrates her award with her son, Rocco.

Women were front and center of two fundraisers for Sunrise Day Camp–Staten Island in March. The Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island, which operates Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island, hosted its first-ever Women Front and Center fundraiser to benefit Sunrise. Just in time for Women’s History Month, the fundraiser on March 23 celebrated strong women in the Staten Island community, including one of our very own Sunrise Day Camp moms, Gabriella DiMaggio, who was joined at the event by her son, Rocco.  

Earlier in the month, Danielle Cabral, a Staten Island native and the newest member of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, organized an amazing “Party Like a Housewife” event that raised funds and awareness for Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island. The event was even featured on the E! News “Do-Gooder Gallery” alongside other high-profile celebrity efforts. Danielle presented Sunrise with a check for $25,000.

Danielle Cabral, star of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, presents a Sunrise donation to Orit Lender, CEO of the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island.

Horizon–Baltimore Plays Ball

A Horizon family enjoying a private tour of M&T Bank Stadium.

Spring means one thing to sports fans – play ball! On April 10, that’s just what the Horizon Day Camp–Baltimore community did during their “Spring Break Sports Experience,” thanks to local teams. The Baltimore Ravens treated campers and families to an in-depth stadium tour while the Baltimore Orioles provided game tickets and invited the kids to batting practice. Two other children’s cancer non-profit organizations took part as well, and the collaborative experience was a homerun!


Campers on the field with Orioles Manager Brandon Hyde and Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias.

Wheels Up! Is International

Get out your passports. Wheels Up! is now airing in hospitals internationally! Our Wheels Up! video series sponsored by American Airlines transports children from hospital beds across the country to exciting destinations around the world. This virtual world-travel program had been shown solely in U.S. hospitals since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. We are thrilled to announce that we are now airing this incredible travel-adventure series abroad. Welcome Canada! We have now added hospitals from Manitoba and Ontario to our Wheels Up! family. Wheels Up! now airs in over 125 hospitals and medical facilities, and that number is soaring day by day. We also work with fantastic organizations such as the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, which airs Wheels Up! in their hospital recording studio; Give Kids the World Village, a storybook resort for chronically ill children in Florida; and The GetWellNetwork, an organization that brings programming bedside to pediatric patients throughout the country. As we finish production of Season 6 and look forward to visiting new locations in Season 7, we thank the Frances Davis Fund, sponsors of the Dorothy and Irving Ross Sunrise Studios, and our friends at American Airlines for bringing this excitement and entertainment from the Sunrise Association to children around the world. Travel along with us by subscribing to our YouTube channel or downloading the Sunrise Studios app, available on mobile phones, Apple TV, Amazon and Roku.