For Colton Reid Kuepfer, Camp Oochigeas was a place of tremendous joy and deep friendships. For someone who never wanted special treatment, who took on each challenge as it came with dignity, Camp Ooch was a place where Kuepfer could share experiences with kids just like himself after he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 15.
When Kuepfer passed away last month at the age of 20, it was to Camp Ooch that Kuepfer’s family requested donations be made in his memory.
And it’s for that camp that Elmira District Secondary School teacher Sandra Jardim is hoping to raise funds, while simultaneously helping the environment too.
“This year, when he passed away, I went to the tribute and I heard about Camp Ooch,” said Jardim. She also learned about Colton himself, his strength in the face of adversity, and the powerful impact the non-profit camp had on his life.
“So then I decided, what can I do to help raise money for this camp, for other kids to be able to go?” she said.
Keenly passionate about the environment, Jardim decided to raise money through an electronics recycling program, and she’s asking for the community’s help.
Jardim is requesting people in the community bring donations of old electronic equipment and waste to the EDSS main office. That’s everything from old cell phones, laptops and tablets to even older audio players, cameras, DVD and VHS players – unwanted items that would otherwise be destined for the landfill.
Everything that gets donated will be traded in to Greentec, an e-waste recycling company that offers to purchase electronic waste by the pound.
“I’m hoping that people will bring their electronic waste instead of throwing it out,” said Jardim. “We have a portable that is empty right now; I’m hoping to fill the portable by the end of April 26.”
“That’s an ambitious goal,” remarks EDSS student Seth Morrison, a friend of Kuepfer.
Morrison recalls his friend for his indefatigable spirit. Kuepfer was an enthusiastic adventurer – traveling, hiking, boating or just vacationing with family – as well a stalwart athlete. He loved soccer, continuing to play even after he lost his leg to cancer.
“He came back and played soccer for another year with an amputated leg. He kind of just had that mentality,” said Morrison.
“He just kind of kept going. Driving with him was a little scary because he’d have to like pick up his arm and move his leg from the gas to the brake – chugging down the 401,” he added with a laugh.
But despite all the adventure, there was no place quite like Camp Oochigeas for Kuepfer.
“For him, it was just a really good place where he could connect with other kids that had cancer,” said Morrison. “Because it’s like a journey you can only relate to with other people who are going through it. So these people he met there became like his best friends.”
Donations of electronic goods are being accepted at the EDSS main office until April 26, but those who would like to support the nonprofit camp directly can do so through its website.