ATHENS — The Georgia football players’ annual dodge ball games, slam dunk contests and arts and crafts are on hold at Camp Sunshine on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Kirby Smart, who’s personally and spiritually invested in the youth camp providing programs for children with cancer and their families, still found a way to have a presence.
“Instead of playing dodge ball, instead of playing basketball,” Smart said in a video distributed by UGA, “…. we get to have a live, look-in, DJ party which I know our players are pumped about.
“Every day in the locker room, they turn our music up so loud that my floor literally shakes because they are beneath me, and these guys throw down and dance all the time.”
The Georgia players who took part in the recent event included Eric Stokes, Devonte Wyatt, Jake Camarda and John FitzPatrick, among several others (full list below).
“Camp Sunshine has meant so much to our family,” Smart said. “I’m so saddened this year that the kids don’t get to actually go to camp. But you know what? If I know (Camp Director Mo Thrash) and everybody at Camp Sunshine and they can make the best of whatever they got, and this virtual party tonight is going to be any one we’ve ever had.”
Smart’s older brother, Karl, attended Camp Sunshine’s Twin Lakes Campus himself in his youth after being diagnosed with cancer (leukemia) his freshman year of high school.
Karl Smart now lends his support to the camp as a counselor and nurse practitioner.
“It means so much to me that Kirby is carrying on this tradition and carrying it to new places,” Karl Smart said. “This has been a time-honored tradition to our family.”
Kirby Smart has become a part of the Camp Sunshine culture each year himself, arriving at the camp in Rutledge, Ga., last summer in a yellow helicopter.
Even before his multi-million dollar contracts and success at Georgia, Smart made several trips to Camp Sunshine as an up-and-coming assistant coach at Valdosta State.
“There’s a lot that goes on within a family that’s dealing with cancer, and this place is a refuge, a place to go where you can forget about what your’e dealing with for a little bit of time,” Smart explained during last year’s visit.
“All you want to do is help your sibling, and a lot of times that’s not just words, that’s being there.”
This year, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Smart saw to it that he and his football team still found a way.
For more information on Camp Sunshine, please CLICK HERE.
List of Georgia players identified at Camp Sunshine Virtual Celebration: Eric Stokes, DeVonte Wyatt, William Poole, Latavious Brini, Jake Camarda, Payne Walker, William Mote, Rylan Goede, Mike Greco, John FitzPatrick, Payne Walker, Owen Condon.
Georgia football supports Camp Sunshine
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) June 25, 2020