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A Camper and His Counselor Stick Together

Photo Available on Request                                                             
Ryan Thompson
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
(203) 772-0522 x31 


The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Marks Hemophilia Awareness Month With a Special “Healing Feeling” Story of Friendship and Independence

NEW HAVEN, CT (March 12, 2013) – As a little boy coping with hemophilia, Zak came to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp where he met a counselor who not only shared his diagnosis, but also a special friendship that would help  Zak face his fears and become more medically independent. Zak’s empowering story was released today during Hemophilia Awareness Month as part of an online video series commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Camp that Paul Newman founded in Connecticut for seriously ill children.

“When you’re at Camp, you’re surrounded by this magic and this feeling that you can do anything … and kids come here and do things that they never thought imaginable before,” said Collin, who was also a Hole in the Wall Gang camper before becoming Zak’s counselor two years ago. It was this shared experience that allowed Zak to learn to inject himself with the clotting factor that needs to be infused daily to prevent internal bleeding. According to Zak’s mom Melissa, the journey toward self-infusion was a difficult one.

“At The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, children with serious health conditions not only can enjoy just being a kid, they also gain valuable skills in managing their disorder and build a life-changing network of support,” said Sharon Dalton, vice president of the Aetna Foundation. “The result is a powerful experience that can empower kids with sickle cell disease to lead healthier lives. We are pleased to be able to help The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp strengthen its efforts to reach children grappling with this difficult chronic condition.”

“[Zak] wouldn’t do it,” said Melissa. “He was really afraid of sticking that needle in his vein. It wasn’t until he was in a different environment with a person who had hemophilia, Collin his counselor, did he first get the confidence.”

For Zak, his friendship with Collin made all the difference as did his counselor’s willingness to do whatever was necessary to help Zak take that scary first step toward becoming more medically independent.

“[Collin] had hemophilia too, so he went with me to the infirmary to get my shots,” said Zak who was treated at Camp’s “O.K. Corral” and carefully supervised by a medical team that provides an unobtrusive environment to make the campers feel as comfortable as possible. “[Collin] let me do his shots on him and then I tried it on myself… For my whole life, I had people doing it. Now, because of Camp, I can do it.”

Zak’s parents credit an incredibly supportive Camp staff for making their son’s accomplishment possible.

“In no other environment would they understand how life changing it is,” said Zak’s mom Melissa. “It’s been the best thing that’s happened to our family.” 

Zak’s three-minute story is online at and is the third installment in the “Healing Feeling” series being released during the Camp’s yearlong 25th anniversary. Grey New York, which serves as the Camp's pro-bono communications agency, provided production and marketing assistance.

About The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and its 25th Anniversary
In 1988, Paul Newman opened The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticutso that children coping with serious illnesses could have a special hideout where they could simply be kids. The Camp, which served 288 campers its first year, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012-13 with 20,000 children and family members now experiencing “a different kind of healing” annually. Each year, 2,500 are served onsite and 19,000 visits by the Hospital Outreach Program bring the fun and friendship of Camp into more than 20 locations throughout the Northeast – all free of charge. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is celebrating this milestone with events and initiatives that will gather the Camp family together and invite new friends to support Paul Newman’s dream.