ELKHART — Forest River Inc., a manufacturer of recreational vehicles, buses, pontoon boats and utility trailers, is teaming up with KOA Care Camps to ensure that more children with cancer can experience the healing nature of camping through a newly created philanthropic collaboration.

Forest River will make a donation to Care Camps for every RV, boat, bus and trailer sold during the next five years. The total donation is expected to exceed $1 million. Forest River officials said they expect the donation effort to continue well after the first five-year period, and many Forest River employees have expressed their own passion for contributing to the cause.

“Forest River is committed to making a difference in the lives of children with cancer,” says Peter Liegl, CEO of Forest River. “I believe camping can be essential to your well-being, and we want to help create that experience for everyone – especially children who may not otherwise have the opportunity.”

Care Camps supports more than 135 specialized oncology camps throughout North America that provide a true summer camp experience to children with cancer and their siblings. The camps are provided at no charge to the affected families and allow these children a rare opportunity to experience emotional healing, helping them better cope with the trauma of a diagnosis even most adults struggle to deal with.

As the number of children surviving cancer increases, the amount of funding needed to make sure these kids can heal emotionally has also risen steadily.

“The need for donations to support these special camps continues to increase. Last year oncology camps requested more than $2.1 million to help provide a medically supervised camping experience for children with cancer and their families. Sadly, we were not able to fully fund all of the requests,” said Wade Elliott, chairman of the Care Camps board of directors. “All of these kids are depending on us to find ways to help them heal. Having Forest River join us in this effort is a huge step forward.”

Karen McAndrew, executive director of KOA Care Camps, said the organization was thrilled to have Forest River as a major corporate partner in supporting the Care Camps mission.

“We know from our research that children with cancer who attend camp have improved outcomes and create memories and friendships that last a lifetime,” McAndrew said. “Healing really does happen here.”

KOA President and CEO Toby O’Rourke said the program was a “very worthy cause” and he was pleased Forest River was stepping up. 

“These children are facing so many challenges in their young lives,” O’Rourke said. “Because of this partnership with Forest River, thousands of children dealing with cancer will be able to enjoy a week of being ‘just a kid.’”

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