Since the mid-1990s, Ray Orrange, an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Management, and his wife, Mary Beth, have been active volunteers for the Dreams from the Heart Camp. Created in 1994 for kids with congenital heart disease, the free camp is programmed as a full summer experience, with activities that include swimming and canoeing. The pace of Dreams from the Heart is less strenuous than other camps and takes place under the supervision of cardiologists and nurses from Pediatric Cardiology Associates of Western New York.
The Orranges have a deeply personal connection to their work with the organization: They lost their son, Paul, to heart disease in 1996. Ray and his wife, Mary Beth, have been committed ever since to helping Dreams from the Heart succeed and grow.
“This started with about 10 kids who went to camp with money raised through bake sales,” says Orrange. “Today, there are nearly 100 participants, with a committed staff made up exclusively of volunteers.”
For four days and three nights, campers live at the Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center. Orrange says the experience not only lets them spend time with other kids, but also gives participants a chance to interact with their doctors outside of a patient-care setting.
“The kids get to see their doctors as people, spending time with them, interacting and having fun,” he says. “They get to see their doctors not just as physicians, but as caring individuals.”
Although Paul never had the chance to take part in Dreams from the Heart, Orrange says his presence is still very much a part of the experience.
“Our involvement allows my wife and me to see our son in these other kids.”
Donations to the UB Employees Campaign for the Community have helped Dreams from the Heart continue its practice of providing the camp’s activities free of charge.
“For me, it is rewarding to know that the donations let a kid who otherwise couldn’t enjoy the experience to go to camp and have a great time,” says Orrange.