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Airport High School to kick off 24th annual Camp Kemo Fundraising Drive Friday

Week of fun benefits summer camp for childhood cancer, blood disorder patients

Cayce, SC (James Bowers) - Childhood cancer is one of the most difficult ordeals that a child and his family can face. Nearly 40 years ago, Palmetto Health Richland’s Childrens Hospital decided to help make the experience a little more bearable for young patients and their families by giving them the opportunity to have the same summer camp experience afforded to healthy children. Since then, Camp Kemo has given kids with cancer an opportunity to do just that. The children who’ve been lucky enough to attend return saying that they’ve been to, “the best summer camp you could ever want to go to as a the ones in movies.”

The camp features activities typical of any sleep away camp. There’s the “Blob," a giant inflatable bouncing pillow, swimming, fishing, campfires, and short field trips. Medical treatment is available to the young patients as they need it just as if they were at home. Funding is entirely from charitable donations; the hospital does not allocate any monies for the project.

In 1994, Airport High School students decided to help out with9 the Camp Kemo’s mission by launching a fundraising drive. Since then, subsequent AHS student bodies have raised an estimated $500,000 for the camp and its programs. Last year alone, the Eagles contributed $50,000 to Camp Kemo, raised over a period of just 50 days.

Friday marks the beginning of the 2018 edition of the fundraiser, which will consist of a ton of fun activities and events aimed at raising $60,000 for Camp Kemo this year. According to Daniel Bailey, an Airport High School faculty member charged with overseeing the project, the school will mark the occasion with two assemblies on Friday. Two staff members from the Palmetto Health foundation will be on hand to inform the student participants of what their work will mean to the campers. Clay Dixon, a Camp Kemo camper and cancer survivor who goes to school in Lexington County, will speak at the assemblies and describe what the experience was like for him and his appreciation for it. The students will then learn about all of the activities that lie ahead during their efforts to reach their fundraising goals.

Every school day, students can buy special breakfast and lunch items, with those funds going to benefit the campers. There will also be a dress up day, where students can dress according to a certain theme, a car show, puppy petting, an eating contest, and even the opportunity to tape an administrator to the wall or pie a teacher in the face! Students can pay a small fee to participate in all these happenings and all that money is added to the pot. The kids can also add to their good times by “buying out” a block, as in contributing a little money to exchange class time for more fun and games like a “Zombies vs. Humans Nerf War” or just an extra free period. Other fun will include Cornhole and Jenga games and Musical Telegrams. Each class will hold a bake sale on a different day during the week. On Friday, March 9, a food truck rally will be held, featuring grub from popular local outlets such as Carolina Wings, Zesto’s and Vella’s to name a few. On Thursday, the entire student body will take part in the third block throwdown, a period of calling family members and other loved ones to seek funding pledges. Bailey says that last year this initiative raised $22,000 in just 90 minutes. Students will also be collecting funds at Airport High School athletic events.

These during-the day festivities are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the number of events going on at and around Airport during the week. The annual Mr. Eagle pageant will take place Saturday, and one of the contestants is a cancer survivor and Camp Kemo camper himself. Among other evening activities are a talent show, a night of one act plays, and a screening of a movie on the Airport campus. Each night during the week a local restaurant will have a spirit night, donating a portion of their proceeds to the Airport effort. Participating eateries are the Sonic in Three Fountains, Carolina Wings, Zesto’s, Vella’s and Chick-Fil-A. Bailey says of the mammoth number of events and fun things going on during this week, “It’s insane."

The aggressive, sizeable Camp Kemo fundraising drive will not be the only fundraising initiative Airport undertakes in the near future. Bailey says that at the end of March a 5K run will be held in honor of a student whose father passed away last year. Half of the proceeds will go to Camp Kemo with the other half being used to fund a scholarship for an Airport High School athlete. It is the spirit of giving back that makes such activities so successful.

Even those who are not affiliated with the school can help out, by visiting or by contacting Airport High School at (803)


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