Lukas’ Leap: Sunrise Day Camp–Chicago Welcomes Its First Campers

Jakob and Lukas at Sunrise Day Camp - Chicago

Lukas during treatment - Sunrise Day Camp Chicago

Four years ago, Nicole Voelz brought her son Lukas to the pediatrician after a rash showed up on his neck. The last diagnosis she expected was cancer. But the following day, Lukas, who was then 21 months old, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “I was upset and sad and scared and worried, and feeling all of these emotions at once,” Nicole recalls. “It came out of left field. It was nothing that we were prepared for.

For the next eight months, Lukas spent most of his time in the hospital. He lost his ability to crawl or walk due to his weight gain, a side effect of his prednisone. He couldn’t even lift his head up.

Through all the poking and prodding, IVs and overnight hospital stays, Lukas put on a brave face and never stopped battling his cancer. “He doesn’t let anything stop him,” said Nicole. “He has that fighting spirit where he wasn’t going to give up on the challenges in front of him.” He also has an awesome older brother/best friend Jakob, who supported him at every appointment. The family is beyond grateful that today, Lukas is one year off treatment and doing great!

This summer, Lukas and Jakob are so excited to attend the inaugural season of Sunrise Day Camp–Chicago together.

“I just want them to have this time where they can learn, grow and do all of the things that they missed out on,” Nicole shared,

explaining that the boys haven’t experienced the joy of playing outdoor games in the summer, learning how to hit a baseball or competing in a soccer game. “They are so excited to just be kids,” she said, noting that splashing around in the pool and making new friends is top of their list.

For the Voelzs, the chance for Lukas and Jakob to go to camp means everything to them. “We are just very thankful for this opportunity for our kids because they’ve lost out on so much,” Nicole explained. “Being able to have them participate in something like this is so huge.”