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Taylor Swift Raises the Bar at Share Your Heart Ball
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Kris Nardecchia, who co-founded Share You Heart Ball for Camp Rainbow Gold and who has championed the camp for 23 years, shows off a framed Travis Kelce jersey which was given to the ball by an anonymous donor.
   
Friday, February 23, 2024
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Camp Rainbow Gold kids can thank Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce when they’re roasting marshmallows around the campfire this coming summer.

An acoustic guitar signed by America’s sweetheart and a football jersey signed by Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Champ Travis Kelce raised $12,500 at the camp’s glamorous Share Your Heart Ball Saturday at Sun Valley Resort.

San Francisco 49ers fans got their moment, as well, with a “Purdy Package” that included tickets to a 49ers game with padded club seating, premiere club access, pre-game on-field passes and more. When the bidding was done, it went for $10,000 to the former owner of South Valley Pizzeria, who kept campers plied in pizza through the years.

 
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Longtime camp volunteer Al Lindley and his wife Linda Parker were among those attending the 2024 Share Your Heart Ball, which was decorated with a woodsy flair to simulate camp.
 

A sell-out crowd opened their hearts and their pocketbooks during a gala evening at the Sun Valley Inn Limelight Ballroom as they came together to bid on a two-night stay in Steve Miller’s former compound, a Sun Valley season ski pass, a week in Baja for eight and a week at a private farmhouse in Lucca, Italy.

They even had a chance to bid on a hand-painted bench boasting the words “Made Strong By Love” to make sure youngsters with cancer and their families can continue coming together at Camp Rainbow Gold’s new Hidden Paradise home.

The camp built on a former golf course near Fairfield opened a few years ago, and it continues to evolve as workers pound the final nails into the new permanent Med Shack and campers’ cabins. Already, campers are shooting arrows at 3D dinosaurs, biking trails along the creek and listening for echoes as they shout at the man in the mountain from the newly constructed amphitheater.

As Idaho’s only medically designed accessible and adaptive camp, Camp Rainbow Gold also serves other groups with health challenges such as epilepsy.

 
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Campers and counselors led the sell-out crowd in singing the camp song: “I love the mountains. I love the rolling hills…”
 

The Schrenk family learned the magic and healing of Camp Rainbow Gold after daughter Kalista learned that her mysterious leg injury signaled leukemia. A week away at camp provided a bright spot amongst the grueling medical treatments the girl endured.

“We all needed a break and it changed our lives and our outlook to be with other families and kids who understood, said her mother Donna Schrenk, noting that her daughter has raised money for the camp in her own way by selling pencils, homemade cards and bracelets at her school. “We have often talked about how we wouldn’t trade our cancer journey because of all the lifelong friends we’ve made and incredible experiences we’ve had.”

Eleven-year-old camper Lily Ross beamed, her family as she recounted her favorite things at camp—namely horses.

”For Lily, camp means the unspoken things that don’t have to be said because the other kids are going through the same thing,” said her mother Jana. “And siblings can often feel left out when so much attention is being paid to the child with cancer so it’s nice to have sibling camp for our other child Makinlee.”

 
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Shannon Durkee, Maria Lefler and Jaime May, who volunteer in the Art and Med shacks, posed for a photo booth.
 

Elizabeth Lizberg, the camp’s executive director, recounted the joy she saw in the eyes of one young boy years ago as he saw the fun his sibling was having at Camp Rainbow Gold.

“He said, ‘I wish I had cancer so I could have this much fun,’ ” she said. “It was in that moment I knew we had to do more. It was in that moment we knew we had to start sibling camp.”

Jaime May, who is among the volunteers who donate 13,000 hours of service each year, said that she loves the fact that the new camp offers the potential for growth: “I love that we can grow to have everything we need there. And I love that others get to come in and experience the magic of our camp.”

Camp Rainbow Gold serves 400 Idaho families a year with camp, support groups and other events.

 
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Elizabeth Lizberg, the camp’s executive director, told the crowd that it costs $2,500 to send a child to camp for a week, given added expenses like around-the-clock medical care.
 

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