Biking to benefit Camp Discovery: 10 years and counting

By Richard Waldman Jr., MD

I’ve been participating in a 100-mile bike ride to benefit Camp Discovery for the past 10 years. The fundraiser was created by Dr. Steve Shama, who suggested the idea at a Massachusetts Academy of Dermatology meeting. After he retired, I continued the tradition. For the past couple years, Dr. David Jones has joined me on the ride, and my son also rode with me one year. In 2012, they were both injured, so I rode by myself, but my secretary joined me for the last 30 miles.

Originally, the ride took place in autumn on a bike trail on Cape Cod, Mass. We’ve since switched locations to Rhode Island, where the ride is done in conjunction with the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen Bicycle Club, a biking club that sponsors charitable rides and gives support to make fundraisers successful.

                Dr. Waldman on the Cape Cod bike trail riding to benefit Camp Discovery.

The ride has been very valuable in promoting Camp Discovery to my patients. Through this outreach, they learn that kids with skin diseases have been attending the Academy’s free summer camp since 1993. All expenses are paid, and the camp is fully staffed with volunteer dermatologists and other medical personnel. My patients are eager to support this great cause and have helped me raise $28,942 over the years through the bike ride fundraiser.

I have found that asking people to support Camp Discovery through the biking fundraiser is much more engaging than simply asking them to write a check. It makes people more invested in the cause. Patients ask me every year when the event will take place and how they can contribute. It also helps to encourage people to exercise. The annual ride has encouraged several of my patients to take up bike riding and other forms of exercise. And it also serves as a way to remind patients to wear sunscreen and protective clothing when exercising outdoors.

This year’s ride will take place Sept. 8, 2013. The 100-mile ride will start at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. I’ll be 68 years old this year, and I’ll continue doing this fundraiser as long as I can.

Organizing fundraisers is an excellent way to support Camp Discovery. In its 20th year, Camp Discovery continues to grow. The program now includes six camps in five locations across the United States. Camps are held in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Connecticut, and Washington. In 2012, there were 334 campers and 250 volunteers, including 51 AAD members. In 2013, we have room for 380 campers, after the expansion of one location. You can learn more about donating to Camp Discovery at the AAD website.

Dr. Waldman attended Medical College of Virginia, then went onto University of Michigan for an internship in Internal Medicine before returning to Medical College of Virginia for his Dermatology training. He then spent two years as Chief of Dermatology in the Army at Cutler Hospital at Fort Devens. Dr. Waldman is happy to continue the tradition of the Camp Discovery 100-mile ride that Dr. Steven Sharma started in 1998.

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