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Sunrise Day Camp

Long Island camp serves children with cancer and their siblings

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

The sound of laughter echoes through Sunrise Day Camp in Wyandanch, Long Island, and there's a smile on every face. They cheer, they play, they dance. But many of these kids are facing tough challenges.

Half of them have cancer, the other half have siblings with cancer.

"You just forget about every worry, everything and it takes you away," Camila Korobow, 15, said. "It just makes you escape.

Camila was diagnosed with a brain tumor at just eight months old. She has been in and out of treatment her whole life. Every summer for the past eight years, she's been a camper at Sunrise.

"They understand if you don't feel well or if you're bald or if you have a scar," she said. "Because you don't have to be anyone you're not here. "

Her older brother Alexei is now a counselor.

"The most special part is that all the medication all the treatments are completely gone when you come here," Alexei Korobow said. "You just worry about being a normal kid and being a camper."

The camp is free. It runs entirely by donations. Each day is different. The activities are tailored to meet the needs of every child.

Executive Director Michele Vernon said when the kids get here they immediately leave thoughts of cancer behind.

"There are children who are anxious at home thinking about their illness at home and treatment but when they come here they're totally relaxed," Vernon said. "And for me, that's the best thing in the world."

For many of the kids Sunrise has become a home away from home -- a place to return to year after year, a place to make special friendships that last all year long.

Sam Brotkin was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma four years ago. Now cancer-free, he is a counselor at Sunrise.

"We can't cure cancer, but every day they come here and they have all day to forget about it," Brotkin said. "Forget about all those tough times they have and just be a kid."

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