Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Camp+Kesem+counselors+eat+smores+during+camp+in+Wisconsin.
Photo courtesy of Camp Kesem
Camp Kesem counselors eat smores during camp in Wisconsin.

Northwestern’s chapter of Kesem is preparing for its annual Make the Magic gala, which will take place on Apr. 13 in Kenilworth Assembly Hall. The club hopes to raise $50,000 through the gala, according to chapter leaders.

Kesem is a national organization that supports children whose parents were diagnosed with cancer by providing year-round programming, support and a free summer camp experience known as Camp Kesem. 

This is NU’s 20th year with a Kesem chapter. Make the Magic is one of the events planned to raise money to cover the costs of a week-long summer camp for the children. For the past eight months, NU Kesem members have been planning the gala, which involves choosing a venue, setting up gala events, planning dinner for the guests and more.

Weinberg junior and Make the Magic co-coordinator Molly McCarthy said she is excited for the event to happen after months of planning. She also credits the successful planning process to Kesem’s national team, who help in signing contracts for the club.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” McCarthy said. “While I am organizing a big fundraising event, I am also planning a sit-down dinner, so it’s like party planning, which I really enjoy.”

The gala will have a number of donation opportunities, such as a paddle raise with different tiers, like donating to send a child to camp or providing the funds for an activity. The gala will also include an auction intended to fund supplies and administrative costs associated with running the summer camp.

The club hopes to send over 150 children to summer camp this year using funds from the gala. Totaling expenses like activities, supplies, food and transportation, the average cost per camper is about $500.

Make the Magic co-coordinator and Carthage College sophomore Mimi Wagner got involved with Kesem at NU as a camper herself. There is no Kesem program at her college. 

She said she joined Kesem at NU because of how much the camp impacted her life. Her love for and history with Camp Kesem motivated her to plan the best event possible, even through challenges. She was a guest speaker at Make the Magic last year.

“Everyone who knows me knows I am a part of Kesem because it is one of my favorite things in the entire world,” Wagner said. “Kesem has changed my outlook on life, and Kesem was really there for me and my family when we were going through a hard time.”

Each year, guest speakers are invited to speak at the gala. This year, one camper parent and two campers will talk about Kesem’s impact on their lives and family.

Kesem at NU co-director and Weinberg senior Elliana Teuscher said she remains passionate about Camp Kesem after becoming a counselor her sophomore year. She added that she is excited to see the club’s hard work pay off.

“We’ve been planning since August so it’s been a long time in the making,” Teuscher said. “I’m just really excited to see our fundraising go up and know that it is going to make a difference in so many kids’ lives.”

McCarthy said one of the most challenging parts of the planning process was generating a guest list. 

“A large number of Kesem chapters have a lot of their counselors and parents attend but since Northwestern has a lot of campers from out of state, it is a lot harder to have people come into town,” McCarthy said.

Despite the challenge, through connections with NU, past donors, Kesem National advisors and club members’ personal contacts, the guest list has grown to 130 people.

As the gala approaches, Wagner is looking forward to attending for another year, this time listening to the speakers instead of speaking herself.

“The most powerful moment there is hearing the kids speak. You get to hear the impact that Kesem has had on them and their families and their experience with cancer,” Wagner said. “Going through that myself, it is cool to hear campers say how Kesem has changed their lives because I totally do agree with that.”

Email: [email protected] 

X: @skylerzur74

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