The ILA Children’s Fund

The ILA Children’s Fund

Making Life a Little Better for Those in Need

The International Longshoremen’s Association founded the Children’s Fund to donate to charities that help children in need, to give back to the community and support worthy causes. Fourteen years ago, the Children’s Fund found just such a worthy charity: the Hole in the Wall Gang camp in Ashford, Connecticut.

The Hole in the Wall Gang camp provides children with cancer and other serious illnesses and conditions a camping experience of the highest quality, while extending year-round support to their families and health care providers. “When I first heard about the Hold in the Wall Gang camp, I knew we had found an organization that truly helped children and their families through some very tough, emotional times,” stated ILA President John Bowers. “The camp has an innovative approach to helping children and families who go through devastating illnesses. It lets kids be kids and gives them and their families much joy in being able to enjoy the outdoors. It’s why we have whole-heartedly given them our support for 14 years.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the camp. More than 1,000 children come to the Hole in the Wall Gang camp each summer free of charge, and more than 16, 000 children have been to the camp since its inception.

On Monday, May 21, 2007 the ILA Children’s Fund held its annual golf outing and dinner fundraiser for the camp. Nearly 220 golfers came out in support of the charity and raised $125,000 for the camp. The honorary speaker at the dinner was Stefanie Vuotto, who came to the camp in 1998 to recover from a bone marrow transplant. Now, thanks to the support she received from the camp, she is entering graduate studies in psychology where she will focus on the long-term impact of cancer survival. “She’s the reason we give,” stated Bowers. “It is stories like hers that give hope to everyone.” The ILA has donated more than $2,000,000 since partnering with the camp.

“We are deeply grateful to the ILA and its leadership for the sustained generosity they have shown us over these many years,” said Jim Canton, executive director of the Hole in the Wall Gang. “The ILA has made a profound difference in thousands of children’s lives. We especially thank John [Bowers] for his vision for the ILA Children’s Fund and for being emotionally touched by the work we do at the camp,” said Canton.

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is expressing its gratitude by naming a dock on the campgrounds after ILA President John Bowers. “The dock is a very special place at the camp,” said Canton. “It’s the place where many campers catch their first fish, where we have our cabin candlelight ceremonies, and where the campers can sit and reflect. It’s a very special place. It seemed only fitting to honor John Bowers in that way.”