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Watch: Sunrise Day Camp brings joy to kids with cancer

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- At Sunrise Day Camp -- a free summer camp for children with cancer and their siblings -- the focus is on having fun.

The camp, on the grounds of Mt. Loretto in Tottenville, is a place where kids can just be kids, and a place where cancer isn't talked about -- unless the campers want to talk about it. 

"Parents say that all they used to talk about was cancer," said Rebecca Gallanter, assistant executive director of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Staten Island. "Now they talk about the fun they had at camp."

Watch the video above to see some of the campers in action.

Sunrise Day Camp programs, which offer free summer camps for children with cancer and their siblings in various areas, have operated since 2006 with the goal of bringing happiness and fun back into the lives of children who have faced an interrupted childhood. 

The JCC partnered with the Catholic Charities of Staten Island to open a Sunrise Day Camp branch here. After two years of planning, the branch finally opened this summer.

The camp is open to children in the surrounding area and transportation is provided.

About 60 kids are enrolled in the program, but the camp usually sees just about 20 kids each day, one-third of the enrollment. 

"We don't know who will be in each day," Gallanter said. "Some kids are in the hospital for treatment, some go on vacation and some just don't feel well."

The program is affiliated with area hospitals, including Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital, which recommend children to  the camp. 

The camp, for children between the ages of 3 and 15, is the sixth Sunrise Day Camp and the first in New York City.

Sunrise Day Camp has two locations in Israel; one in Long Island; one in Pearl River, N.Y., and a new location in Baltimore. 

According to Gallanter, the JCC had to fundraise at least $500,000 to offer the camp this summer, and to be able to offer activities throughout the upcoming school year, including programming during school breaks and weekends.

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