A special group of kids got enthusiastic attention Wednesday from a special group of wives and mothers when more than two dozen members of PGA Tour Wives Association visited Camp Genesis at Camp Abe Lincoln near Buffalo.
The 60 children from the Quad-Cities who are at Camp Genesis hosted the PGA Tour charitable group, in town in conjunction with the John Deere Classic golf tournament.
The young campers have a bond: They have loved ones or family members who have either died of or been treated for cancer. The kids attend the traditional week-long camp, which includes special programming for their needs.
It attracted the interest of 25 association members.
“Thank you for allowing us to come to your camp,” Amy Wilson said to the cheering children. “Camp rocks!” she added to even more applause.
“Most of us have children,” Wilson said in an interview. “This camp really touches your heart, to think about what the kids are going through. They shouldn’t have to be worrying about things like cancer.”
Wilson, association president, is the wife of golfer Mark Wilson. The couple from Elmhurst, Ill., have two boys and are expecting a third baby.
The women gave out presents to each of the participants. Lap-sized quilts, part of the Quilts for Kids project, were appreciated. Girls got quilts with a pink motif, and boys received quilts in green and yellow. All the quilts included the familiar Deere & Co. logo.
“This quilt looks like it’s hand-made,” said Sydney Despeghel, 9, of Davenport. “I think it’s really cool!”
Sydney is attending Camp Genesis with her sister, Sarah, 7, because their grandmother died of brain cancer.
Seven-year-old Molly O’Hair, daughter of golfer Sean O’Hair, handed out quilts to the campers.
“I like doing it because it can make people feel better,” said Molly, the eldest of four children in the O’Hair family.
Jackie O’Hair brought Molly to the event because she thinks her daughter is ready to learn about the importance of helping others.
“Putting a smile on another person’s face can also make you feel real good,” she pointed out.
The O’Hair family is from West Chester, Pa.
Stacy Hoffman suggested the experience might help the children.
“I hope they forget about their worries at home,” said Hoffman, married to golfer Charley Hoffman. The couple lives in Las Vegas with their 20-month-old daughter.
This is the first time the PGA Tour Wives Association visited Camp Genesis, although the organization has a relationship with Gilda’s Clubs in the United States. Camp Genesis is made possible by gifts from the Genesis Health System Cancer Care Institute, Camp Abe Lincoln and Gilda’s Club Quad-Cities.
Anita Shaft, program manager of Gilda’s Club Quad-Cities, helps lead Camp Genesis, which was founded four years ago. The association’s visit to the camp — held at the Scott County Family Y’s bucolic Camp Abe Lincoln — is an important milestone, Shaft said.
The children view the visit as one positive aspect of cancer, while they normally know only about the negative results of the disease, she said.
“To see the campers happy and resilient is really what this is about,” Shaft said.