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Lemont Family Hosts Garage Sales to Support 'Cancer Camp' for Kids

Ryan and Dana Kahle will host a two-garage sale this weekend to raise money for Camp Kesem at Northwestern University.

Dana Kahle, 15, and her brother, Ryan Kahle, are hosting a series of garage sales this summer to raise money for Camp Kesem, a summer camp for children of cancer patients. Photo Credit: Denise Kahle
Dana Kahle, 15, and her brother, Ryan Kahle, are hosting a series of garage sales this summer to raise money for Camp Kesem, a summer camp for children of cancer patients. Photo Credit: Denise Kahle
For Lemont siblings Ryan and Dana Kahle, attending summer camp has been a life-changing experience—one that has given them unique experiences and friendships, and even helped them cope with their father's death.

About seven years ago, Ryan and Dana's mom, Denise Kahle, sent her kids to Northwestern University's Camp Kesem, a one-week overnight support camp for children, ages 6 to 16, who have a parent who has died from cancer, is currently in treatment for cancer, or is in remission from cancer. 

Their father, Kerry Kahle, was diagnosed in 2001 with Lynch Syndrome, a hereditary disorder that increases the risk of cancer. He died in 2011 at the age of 50 after battling cancer in his colon, bladder and intestines.

During his illness, Denise started looking for support groups for Ryan and Dana. She eventually found Camp Kesem and convinced them to attend.

"They were hesitant at first, but I knew they needed something to help them cope with everything that was going on," Denise said. "At the time, they didn't have people who understood the things they were going through."

Ryan and Dana ended up enjoying the experience so much that they kept going back, and have even dedicated a considerable amount of time and effort to raising money for the camp.

In 2011, the Kahles raised $775 by holding a small garage sale. This summer, they have planned a series of garage sales in hopes of raising $5,000. After two sales, they have already raised nearly $1,500.

On Friday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Kahles will hold a large garage sale at their home, located at 18 E. Eureka Drive. The sale will feature everything from clothing and toys to antiques and furniture—all of which was donated by friends, community members and past garage sale patrons.

"Camp Kesem relies solely on donations, so I think as we've gotten older we've really wanted to find ways to pay it forward and spread the word, especially because it has given so much to us," Dana said.

The Kahles are planning their largest sale over Labor Day weekend. Dana, a rising sophomore, is getting help from her classmates in Interact, a service club at Lemont High School.

"A lot of people have been really generous, helping us collect donations and get the word out about the sales," Dana said.

People have also been driving to the Kahles' house after seeing items listed on Craigslist and Bookoo. Last week, a Cicero man bought a table full of silk plants to use on the set of the new ABC series "Betrayal," which is being filmed in Chicago. 

"Our Camp Kesem plants will be famous!" Denise said.

Ryan, a sophomore at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, is now too old to attend Camp Kesem, but he still considers the people he met there among his best friends.

"I was really opposed to Camp Kesem when my mom first told us about it, but it ended up helping me in so many ways," Ryan said. "It provided a lot of support during a difficult time in my life, and I think it made me more open and accepting of others."

Dana said the camp was particularly helpful after their dad died.

"There's usually always someone at camp who has to come back for the summer and tell the group that their parent has passed away," Dana said. "I think being there made it easier somehow. We all help each other get through it."

Although the garage sales have consumed most of the Kahles' summer, Denise said she is grateful for Camp Kesem and proud of her kids for wanting to give back.

"I get really emotional talking about it, because I'm just so proud of them and how much they've grown up," Denise said. "To see what Camp Kesem has done for them, it makes all of the hard work worth it."

The Kahles are still accepting donations for the Labor Day sale. To donate, email Denise at dmkahle@msn.com.

To view items for sale (over $10), visit the Kahle's pages on Craigslist and Bookoo.

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