Children with cancer flown to LI to begin week of camp

Teagan Klingenberg, a 12-year-old cancer survivor, can stop saying she has never been camping after this week.

On Saturday she and her brother Tanner Klingenberg, 16, were flown from upstate Saratoga Springs to the East Hampton Airport, where they joined 16 children with cancer and their families to begin a week of camp on Shelter Island.

The flights were arranged by volunteer pilots from upstate and several other states to bring the children to a camp for kids with cancer.

“For years, she’s been wanting to come to camp and she’s been asking me to come,” said Tanner, who visited the camp when his sister was in the hospital with acute myeloid leukemia, a rare form of blood cancer. “She’s always been asking about if she could come and what it was like and I’ve gotten to tell her stories about it through the years.”

After the volunteer pilots from Farmingdale-based Patient Airlift Services landed at the East Hampton airport, a bus took the children to a Kids Need More Camp Adventure, a sleep-away camp for children ages 6 to 18 diagnosed with cancer or life-threatening illnesses and their families. The volunteer-run Shelter Island camp has shows, concerts and carnivals — and an on-site medical team.

Tanner said flying beat the seven-hour drive to the camp. He is excited to spend his first camp with his sister. “It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s an escape from everything else. I’ve known a lot of people here for years, really good friends.”

Teagan said the art and crafts offered at camp most excited her. “My favorite is painting,” she said.

Volunteer pilot Jack Napoli, 73, of East Hampton, who flew the siblings down from upstate, said he was happy to volunteer his time to help children. “For those of us able to do this, it’s really nice to be able to give back,” he said.

Arielle DiGennaro, 22, a camp counselor who flew in with three of her siblings from Toms River, New Jersey, said her previous time as a camper inspired her to take a bigger role.

“I loved it, it was fantastic,” said DiGennaro, a survivor of neuroblastoma, a tumor that surrounded her adrenal gland and kidney. “The camp is pretty much like a family. Once you go there, it’s very welcoming . . . I honestly love it, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

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