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June 30, 2009

Children With Cancer Attend SIU Med School’s 24th Camp COCO

The 24th annual Camp COCO will host 130-plus campers with cancer and other blood disorders during its one-week session July 12 through 17.  A project of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, the camp will be held at the Timber Pointe Outdoor Conference Center on Lake Bloomington.  The theme for this year’s camp is “Pirate Cove:  Who Stole the Black Pearl?”

The campers from central Illinois receive special attention from a number of SIU's pediatric staff members, who spend the week providing medical care and spending time with their patients and some of their patient’s siblings.  Others who provide care and assistance are health professionals who treat some of the campers at the St. Jude's Affiliate in Peoria and community volunteers from Springfield.

"The campers get a second chance at the childhood they have lost during the camp’s week of activities, giving them a time to just have fun.  The hard work of volunteers and the contributors make this possible," said Dr. Gregory P. Brandt, SIU associate professor of pediatrics and camp medical director.  Brandt, director of SIU’s pediatric hematology/ oncology division, works with his team and staff from St. John’s Children’s Hospital plus others from St. Jude's to provide medical support to the camp.

There are nearly 100 camps listed with Children's Oncology Camps of America, which coordinates communication between the various camps and helps develop guidelines for their operation.  Two other camps are located in the Chicagoland area.

The SIU pediatrics department has established the COCO Children's Cancer Fund, which supports the camp as well as year-round projects for patients being treated for hematological and oncological diseases.  This year's camp is supported by the generosity of more than 600 individuals, service clubs and businesses.

Contributions to the COCO Children's Cancer Fund can be made payable to and mailed to the Camp COCO/SIU Foundation, P.O. Box 19666, Springfield, Ill. 62794-9666, 217-545-2955.  Online donations can be made at

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Note To The Media:  At the request of the camp director and as a courtesy to the children, all media visits must be scheduled in advance through SIU's Office of Public Affairs, 217-545-2155 (or on the weekend – Ruth, 793-8200, or Nancy, 787-2224).  Monday and Tuesday are the best days for interviews at camp.  Hometowns for Camp COCO campers are listed below.  We do not release names of campers in advance, but will query campers about specific interview requests.  Most are agreeable to interviews and photos.

The camp is located north of Bloomington-Normal on Lake Bloomington.  Most media visitors can take I-55 northbound and exit on I-39 or Highway 51 North.  Go 4.5 miles to the Hudson exit.  Turn east (right) and go through town and 3 miles into the county to the stop sign at 1700 East.  Go north (left) 1.5 miles to county road 2350 North.  Turn east (right) and go for 2 miles.  Timber Pointe Outdoor Center sign is just after the bridge on the left.  Look for the large stone pillars and Timber Pointe Outdoor Center sign at the entrance. Directions also are posted at -

Hometowns for Camp COCO campers 

Arthur Hudsonville Pickerington, Ohio
Ashland Illiopolis Pleasant Plains 
Athens Jacksonville Quincy
Auburn  Kirkwood Rantoul
Bloomington LeRoy Roanoke
Blue Mound Lincoln Rochester
Carmel Mackinaw Rushville
Chatham Mahomet Savoy
Chillicothe Mattoon Secor
Cisco Mechanicsburg Sidell
Danville Mendota Sparland
Decatur Mt. Zion Springfield
Divernon Murrayville Staunton
East Peoria Normal Tilton
Edwards Ogden Tiskilwa
Fairbury Ottawa Toulon
Fisher Paris Wapella
Galesburg Pawnee Washburn
Geneseo Paxton Washington   
Glen Ellyn Pekin West Peoria
Hannibal, Mo. Peoria Williamsville
Homer Peru  







thern Illinois University School of Medicine Office of Public Affairs News Releases P.O. Box 19621, Springfield IL 62794-9621, 217-545-2155