Lions Invade Camp is Gold Gala




By Judy Carmack Bross




All of these lions found homes with donors at the Camp Is Gold Gala


When the lions flew off the shelves above, delivered to paddle raise donors by campers with pediatric cancer, we knew that this was our favorite moment at a Chicago gala this fall.  The Ritz Carlton event which had sold out four months before with almost 500 guests who celebrated Camp One Step in Lake Geneva, raised a record-breaking over $900,000 at the Camp Is Gold Gala. The beauty of the ballroom filled with blush-colored roses matched the imagined roar of the little lions as they went to their proud owner.


Each year for ten years, a different stuffed animal is debuted at the annual gala. The stuffed animal is named by the campers and becomes the camp mascot for the following year of programs.  This year’s stuffed animal represents the courage and strength of campers at Camp One Step.



 President Jeff Infusino told guests:  “In 45 years Camp One Step has served over 20,000 campers with a mission that has remained constant:  to ensure that cancer does not prevent kids from experiencing the simple joys of childhood. Through our in-person camps and digital CONNECTED programs, we give kids the opportunity to run and play.  We encourage them to take on the world and not let cancer define them.”


Campers Lake and Talia performed their special handshake perfected at Camp One Step for Gala Guests


Through year-round opportunities, children from birth to age 19 and their families meet, bond, and find a network of support, inclusion, accessibility, connections and empowerment. In 2023 more siblings and more parents, as well as campers, were able to participate in many more programs.  There were 1700 campers in 2023, including 117 new campers reaping the rewards of being around others going through the same things they are. 


Board Chair Jon Leiman and his wife Kerry, Event Chair, sharing a toast


Kerry Leiman, who first attended Camp One Step at the age of 10 and became a counselor, with her father serving on the Camp board and her mother teaching a baking mini-camp,  served as Gala Chair. Her husband Jon is Chairman of the Board.


From left, Todd Schwebel, Ali and Scott Schwebel, with children August and Coco, and Marjorie Schwebel at The Player Invitational


The evening highlighted the partnership with the Jeffrey Schwebel Foundation which honors the late son of the evening’s speaker Marjorie Schwebel who presented the Richard Schwebel Award, named for Jeffrey’s father and her husband who was an active board member and fundraiser until his death in 2014. Jeffrey first attended Camp at the age of 12 in 1979, then served as a counselor.  The Jeffrey Schwebel Foundation has contributed $800,000 to Camp One Step through The Player Invitational, held in Lake Geneva each summer.


Marjorie Schwebel told the audience : 


 “Jeffrey fought with great courage, and for his family, knowing that there were medical professionals on board we felt good about sending him there. All the kids there really understand one another. They have been around life and death, and in some cases, saw friends die.  It truly is a home for children with cancer and Jeffrey developed a deep empathy there.  He received 23 bonus years before he succumbed in 2001.”


At Camp One Step, Jeffrey Schwebel was able to continue to pursue his love of sailing both as a camper and as a counselor.


The Player Invitational with helicopter ball-drop, $100 balls and prizes for those closest to the pin


Richard Schwebel Family Award winners Dianna and Rick Heinz for Scoreboard Charities


Marjorie Schwebel presented this year’s Richard Schwebel Family Award to Dianna and Rich Heinz representing Scoreboard Charities, a long-time Camp partner which has donated over $300,000 since 2016.   Scoreboard sponsors the cleverly titled “Meet Me in Manhattan, An Old Fashioned Way to Beat Cancer.”


Camper Luis sharing his Camp One Step and cancer journey


Camper Luis also shared his experiences:


“I have been coming to Camp since I was seven years old and it is a driving force in what I am today.  It has given me countless opportunities, my best friends, and a second family,” he said.


Event Host and former camper Ryan Sartori told the guests: “I have seen a lot of things that some people would say are impossible: amputees ski down double black diamonds in Park City, the shyest of kids blossom into the most social butterflies in just a matter of days, and campers absolutely shatter their fears.  At camp, insecurities have no premise and disabilities have no power.”



Following dinner, the live auction offered a golf stay and play at the Cliffs and dinner with Chef Rich Mancini who was featured on Hell’s Kitchen. Guests danced into the night to the Talk of the Town featuring Maggie Speaks.


The Camp is Gold Gala Committee


Marjorie Schwebel summed up the magic of the evening:

“How rewarding that many campers have survived and were present giving witness to the almost people who came to the Fundraiser! The campers shared how meaningful the friends they have met at camp have become extremely important in their lives, due to their shared cancer diagnosis.

“Following the film that showed the audience the many varied activities that the campers were able to discover, explore and experience, I believe kids are so excited to attend this specialty camp and embrace more hope and joy.”


Marjorie Schwebel presenting the Richard Schwebel Family Award


President of the Board Jon Leiman and President Jeff Infusino




For further information about Camp One Step visit: