Sunrise Scoop January 2023

Sunrise Highlights

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

Camper Story

Meet Max  

How Horizon Day Camp–Metro DC helped Max to stay afloat and keep sailing  

For parent Jamie McElhatton, sending children into the world is like watching little sailboats make their way across a big body of water. “Then all of a sudden, there is a clinical set back and you feel like the boat has stopped and is taking on water,” Jamie explains. “Your family cares only about one thing: keeping the boat afloat.” In this case, the boat is Jamie’s son Max, who in 2018 at the age of 4 was diagnosed with cancer – specifically, a pilocytic astrocytoma tumor of the brain stem. 

Over the past four years, Max has been on multiple forms of chemotherapy, enduring so much but rising above it all. Max’s team at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. helped get Max on a clinical trial of a new experimental drug that has shrunk his tumor and improved life dramatically. Sunrise’s Horizon Day Camp–Metro DC helped Max return to the waters, so to speak, and once again set sail with other children.  

Max had just started the trial when he began camp last summer. He was so nervous. He had missed so much school. Why Horizon Day Camp–Metro DC proved invaluable was twofold. “First, it was a safe and supportive space for Max to come back into the world after his team managed to get him stable and improving,” says Jamie. Within just a few days, Max was sitting at the kitchen table with his family, singing the camp theme song. “I was so relieved and grateful to see him playing with other children, smiling and laughing and singing. We couldn’t give Max those experiences by ourselves but that’s what we all had been fighting for. Max was living his life.”  

Second, Jamie explains that Horizon Day Camp was so helpful because Max had missed a lot of school in the spring of 2022. Camp set him up for success. “When he was well enough to go back to school full time in the fall, he had much less anxiety about returning because he had just spent time with children at camp.” It was easier for Max to see those other little sailboats that were now ahead of him. Without camp, sailing along with them would have been impossible. They would have just been specks out on the horizon so far in front of him.  

Sailing analogies aside, Max sums up the power of Horizon Day Camp quite simply. “I loved camp because it was fun.” Mission accomplished!  

Sunrise Update - End-of-Year Campaign

Thanks to a very generous, anonymous donor who matched donations up to $150,000, our end-of-year campaign raised $577,233. Thank you to all of our donors for doubling the joy for children with cancer and their siblings! You are helping to make it possible for Sunrise to continue offering summer camp and year-round programming free of charge. If you didn’t yet make a donation there’s still time – donate online at 

Thank you for the gift of JOY!

Sunrise News – Sunrise Day Camp–Chicago Opening This Summer 

Look at those beautiful Sunrise smiles at the first annual SunriseWALKS Chicago.

Sunrise Day Camp–Chicago, Sunrise Association’s 12th summer day camp, will open its inaugural season this summer! JCC Chicago and Sunrise Association are proud to partner to bring Sunrise smiles to the greater Chicago community. Like all of our camps, Sunrise Day Camp–Chicago is a full-summer day camp for children with cancer and their siblings, ages 3 ½ to 16, provided completely free of charge. Registration is open! 

“Bringing Sunrise Day Camp to Chicago was an easy yes on our end,” said Addie Goodman, President & CEO of JCC Chicago. “[Our] camping program is grounded in the care and keeping of children and families and a commitment to make summer magical for every child. It is an honor and privilege to be part of the Sunrise family.”  

Sunrise Chicago is generously supported by the Hecktman Family Foundation, which has seeded the first three years of camp operations. In addition, the Hecktman Family Foundation will match all gifts to Sunrise Chicago at 1:3 (one dollar for every three donated). 

“The Hecktman Family Foundation is thrilled to help incubate a Chicagoland summer day camp for pediatric oncology patients and their siblings. The partnership between the Sunrise Association and JCC Chicago supports our mission to impact humanity through global and diversified philanthropic endeavors. We believe this program will be an asset for our pediatric oncology community; a place to build friendships, share smiles and find hope,” said Hillary Behar Hecktman. 

If the first annual SunriseWALKS Chicago, which took place in October, is any indication of what’s to come this summer, the new camp will be a huge success. More than 200 supporters of all ages gathered nine months before a camper would even set foot on the new campgrounds. We are incredibly excited about how the new Sunrise Chicago community, which is only in its beginning stages, is off and running. We can’t wait to spread Sunrise joy and magic to the Windy City this summer! 

Sunrise Event – The Gift of Sunrise on Ice

  Some of our Long Island camper families had some pre-holiday fun at Disney on Ice! A big thank you to Blue Ocean Wealth Solutions, Fusion Family Wealth, Grassi, and Rivkin Radler for generously donating their shared box at the new UBS Arena for the afternoon and evening shows of Disney on Ice. We love creating memorable opportunities for our campers to share with their families. Sunrise is the gift that keeps on giving.  

Sunrise Event – Philly’s Winter Wonderland

Sleigh bells rang, were you listening? On December 11, Sunrise Day Camp–Greater Philadelphia transformed Temple Beth El, the site of their camp, into a “Winter Wonderland.” Dressed in winter pajamas and other cozy attire, Sunrise staff, campers and families made a giant ice-skating rink out of plastic wrap and paper snowflakes, built igloos and snowmen with toothpicks and marshmallows, and designed Arctic animal shadowboxes. Families played winter bingo and took home super-cool prizes. Ollie’s Orchestra, a nonprofit that brings music into the lives of children with cancer, distributed backpacks filled with musical instruments, and all enjoyed a special sing-along. The day finished with Philadelphia’s first annual Sunrise Soft Snowball fight, donuts and a hot chocolate bar. All left with Sunrise cocoa mugs to toast the new year. Holiday cheers! 

Sunrise News – Wheels Up! Season 6  

Hop on a special American Airlines flight from Sunrise Studios to an amazing destination – like Hawaii, Madagascar or Spain. Explore “Cool Caves,” “Extraordinary Museums” and the “Best Playgrounds Ever.” Wheels Up! Season 6 is underway!  

Wheels Up! transports children from hospital beds across the country to exciting destinations around the world. These 30-minute episodes include fun crafts and engaging trivia games. Patients become world travelers and use our special Passport Kit – complete with a Sunrise Association passport, colored pencils, stamps and stickers – to track their adventures. Bon voyage!  

Wheels Up! now airs in over 90 hospitals and medical facilities, and that number is growing rapidly. We also work with fantastic organizations such as the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, which airs Wheels Up! in their hospital recording studios, and Give Kids the World Village, a storybook resort for chronically ill children in Florida.  

As we prepare for Season 6 to take off, we thank 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 across the country.  

CLICK HERE for a special announcement from our Wheels Up! host, Ciera – and travel along with us this season by subscribing to our YouTube channel or downloading the Sunrise Studios app, available on mobile phones, Apple TV, Amazon and Roku. 

Sunrise Spotlight – Sami Tanenbaum 

Last month, the Atlanta Jewish Times honored Aurora’s Sami Tanenbaum with a 40 Under 40 award. Sami is the Director of Camp and Year-Round Programs at Aurora Day Camp, which is a proud member of the Sunrise Association.  

“The love, compassion, and energy Sami brings to Aurora is unrivaled and is what makes Aurora such a safe and special place for kids in Atlanta,” said Aurora’s Executive Director Greg Hill, who thanked Sami for sharing her authentic self with Aurora for the past five years. “Sami has breathed life into Aurora, and her passion for camp is beyond words.” Congratulations to Sami for being recognized for this gift she selflessly provides. 

Sunrise In the News

Serving it up for Sunrise! Sunrise was featured on the Long Island Herald’s website last month in this story about Baldwin High School’s Girls’ Varsity Volleyball team’s fundraiser! Click here to read the story.  

Baldwin school community members help spread the word about the importance of supporting the Sunrise mission. “I was proud and genuinely touched that the volleyball team chose to support Sunrise Day Camp,” said Ron Ventura, a Baldwin High School social studies teacher who has volunteered at Sunrise Day Camp–Long Island for years. “I know first-hand how much good the staff of Sunrise does for kids and families who are afflicted with cancer. I will be sure to let kids at the camp know that Baldwin Volleyball really wants them to have the best summer ever.” 

Candace Betances, who graduated from Baldwin High School last year, agrees. “It makes me so happy to see this tradition of donating to Sunrise Day Camp continue as the kids of the camp are so grateful. They benefit so much from the program,” she said. “As someone who volunteers every year, it feels great to help in any way I can and to feel like I am helping make a difference in someone’s life.” Baldwin Volleyball, way to SET a good example! 

Endurance News: We've Got Bibs!

Team Sunrise will be represented at the Chicago Marathon in 2023! Interested in running one of the country’s premier marathons and raising money for Sunrise? Contact MaryKate Smith at 

Please note: Sunrise Association policy requires that all event attendees be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. In-person events will be held in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, including local, state, and CDC guidelines, to protect the health and welfare of our staff and guests.