Registration has opened for this year’s Angel Ride, an all-volunteer effort that organizes annual athletic endurance events as fundraising initiatives with 100 percent of the money raised going directly to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp's Hospital Outreach Program. This year’s events, marking the 10th anniversary of Angel Ride amidst the 25th anniversary year of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, will be held May 25-26. Angel Ride, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, has supported The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp's Hospital Outreach Program since 2007. Hospital Outreach® brings the hopeful, playful spirit of The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp – founded in 1988 by the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman - to children and families in the hospital setting. By offering unique, creative and developmentally appropriate activities and interactions, the program helps to restore joy and laughter in a time often laden with fear, stress and uncertainty. Consistent with other Camp programs, it is available to hospitals and families at no cost.
This past year, 18,000 hospitalized children received a visit from "Camp". They work collaboratively with hospital staff to enhance, augment or support existing programs focused on improving the quality of life during treatment. The Hospital Outreach Program brings the joy and fun of Camp’s summer programming to seriously ill children year-round. Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center are among the hospitals in the Northeast that are participating in the program.
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp recently released an inspiring song and music video to kick off its 25th anniversary as a hideout where seriously ill kids can simply be kids. Natalie Merchant, one of America's most respected recording artists, created a new sing-a-long version of her iconic song "Wonder" and recorded it at the Camp in Ashford, Conn. this past summer with the campers. In the music video, Merchant leads the kids in song interspersed with clips of the late Paul Newman and the campers sharing what the Camp means to them.
Another newly released video highlights the connection between campers Hannah and Janis, who have formed a special bond during the past two years at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. That bond has allowed them to face the challenges of mitochondrial disease together and experience “a different kind of healing.” The unforgettable story of their friendship brings the unique spirit of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to life in the first online “Healing Feeling” profile, which is part of a series being released during the Camp’s 25th anniversary.
"Wonder" was written by Natalie Merchant for her first solo album "Tigerlily." The song, released as a single in 1996, reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Its lyrics contain the refrain, "They say I must be one of the wonders" and were inspired by Merchant’s own experience meeting twin sisters coping with a congenital disease. Merchant was struck by how positive the girls were as they faced significant challenges, thanks to an inner strength that she attributed to the love and support of their family and friends.
"For years, I've been told by parents of kids with special needs and medical staff and children themselves that 'Wonder' has become an anthem for sick kids. So I know the healing power of the song. I am delighted to add my voice to all the love, camaraderie and sharing that goes on at Camp. Paul really did it so well. The Camp is a magical place."