The lake came alive July 4th as boaters took to the water and gathered at Camp Bob Cooper. Around 9pm, the sky was bright with fireworks and the crowd went wild. After the grand finale, boat horns blew in appreciation of the show. When the crowd left and the waters were calm, a faint glow of lights could be seen and sounds of laughter and music could be heard from the camp. This is because Camp Bob Cooper was hosting Camp Happy Days and the week of fun on the Santee was officially kicking off.
Camp Happy Days began in 1982 and the goal is to provide children battling cancer a week of “normal living.” The week is always scheduled during the July 4th holiday. They spend their time swimming, tubing, boating, crafting, and playing. The cancer patients’ siblings are allowed to attend camp as well, since many of them have had their lives turned upside down with the diagnosis.
Andrea Killman, owner of The Studio in Manning, has been involved with Camp Happy Days for the past nine years. She was approached by one of the coordinators to facilitate their Camp Happy Days Prom, which is now a Thursday night tradition for campers.
“I thought it was a good way to show my daughter how lucky she was. God gave me a gift and I can use it to help others by making them feel pretty,” said Killman.
When the time came to prepare for the camp, Killman sent out invitations to cosmetologists in the Manning area. One responded right away and brought a team of people with her. Katherine Brogdon’s mother succumbed to cancer last year and she thought this would be a great way to honor her mother’s life and love. Along with Brogdon were her daughter and son, her sister, and some special friends. They cleared their calendars for the day and committed to help. Although Brogdon had been involved previous years, this year was especially dear to her.
“My clients are excited to help in their own way and had no problem rescheduling. I even had clients send in donations,” Killman said.
Killman sent out a call for donations on social media and the hair accessories and supplies started coming in. Nick Perkins, a retired hair stylist from Manning, raised over $1,000 to buy supplies for the prom.
From Promposals to picking out their dresses, campers had the opportunity to experience the traditional prom activities. There was a table for nails, a table for makeup, and a table for hair. The campers were escorted down the red carpet as their pictures were taken and they danced the night away. Killman said the night was full of all the emotions you would normally feel on prom night – excitement, nervousness, anticipation.
There are many ways to help with the Camp Happy Days Prom. They take gently used prom dresses, neckties and bow ties, and beauty and hair supplies. There is always a need for professional hairdressers and makeup artists. Seamstress skills are needed to ensure the dresses fit the girls properly. Monetary donations can be made directly through the website: camphappydays.org.
“You may wish someone had done it for your kid one day,” Killman said, as she tried to explain the importance of the program. “It can be sad not seeing some of the kids come back the next year, but it’s great to see some of the kids return with a head full of hair!”
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