BIA Construction Team Recognized with Community Service Award

Members of the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina were recognized with the REGAL Award for Community Service sponsored by The State newspaper.

Camp Cole and the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina have been working together to create a safe, accessible, and inspirational gathering place where groups can connect, share, encourage and shine.

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Lexington Life Magazine Highlights Camp Cole: A Place to Shine

Cole Carter was 11 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. His big sister Kelsey, Camp Cole Founder and Executive Director, then 13, watched as the lives of her family were turned upside down in an instant.

Visitors are sure to witness the spirits of Cole and Stacy shining brightly across the beautiful campus.

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Camp Cole is a Gift to Last Forever

By Luke Hodges

Deans Fawcett is on a mission, and she isn’t the least bit intimidated by the enormity of the charitable undertaking before her. “I really haven’t felt daunted,” the Columbia native says of fundraising for Camp Cole, the future Midlands retreat center for people dealing with serious health conditions that she has co-founded with her husband Peter, their children, and the Sawyer family. “It’s a labor of love, and a gift to Columbia to last forever, I hope.”

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The forty-acre camp is named for the late Cole Sawyer, who lost his battle with cancer in 2005 at the age of eleven. Cole’s mother, Stacy (Deans and Stacy were sorority sisters at University of South Carolina and rekindled their bond while volunteering at
a retreat for children with pediatric cancer), always dreamed of starting an overnight camp in the Midlands for people with major health issues like her son, but her own untimely passing in 2016 prevented her from realizing this project. Her staggering loss galvanized the Fawcetts into taking action, and they are now committed to makingStacy’s dream a reality. “Her death was our catalyst, and it’s been our incentive to keep going,” Deans says. “We’re going to build this camp, and then other organizations that need the space can come use it.”

Camp Cole will be the only overnight retreat facility of its kind in the Columbia area, and–Deans is quick to point out–
the only facility in the state that will sleep over two-hundred people with full heating and air conditioning, a feature that will allow them to operate year round. What’s more, Camp Cole will be designed in accordance with the rigorous standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the American Camp Association, so that the space will be accessible to all who visit. “We’ve talked to a lot of different organizations serving many different populations,” Deans says. “Groups supporting people with Down’s syndrome, people with autism, people with muscular dystrophy. We wanted their suggestions on what they would need, and what would impress them to come.”

Without the financial guidance of the Community Foundation to rely on, Deans says starting Camp Cole would have been a much more difficult process for her family. “It’s been a great project, but a hard learning experience,” she says. “The Community Foundation has helped us so much with the money-related questions we’ve had, with handling the 501(c)(3)concerns and also the tax side of things. We needed their expertise, and they’ve helped us immensely.” With powerful community partners like Palmetto Health Richland and the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina signing on to support the project, Camp Cole is poised to open its doors in 2020. But all of this good news doesn’t mean Deans is slowing down on the fundraising front. “We’re just getting started,” she says. “All of us know that this will be something lasting we can give the community.” And something remarkable, she adds, to honor the memories of Cole and Stacy.

Camp Cole receives a jump start to become a one–of–a–kind retreat

By Cathy Cobbs — Columbia Star

The death of a child with cancer in 2004, the sudden passing of his mother in 2016 would seem to overwhelm any hopes and dreams that one might have for the future.

But what has come out of this is Camp Cole, a specialty retreat for both children and adults who are undergoing the same struggles.

It all started with Cole Sawyer, the energetic son of Stacy and Scott, who was diagnosed with Rhabdmyoscaroma, a rare form of soft tissue cancer. During his 16- month battle with the disease, he was introduced to Camp Kemo, which offers a weeklong summer camp for children with cancer and their siblings. His mother became very involved in Camp Kemo events, even after her son passed away at the age of 11 in 2004.


“As the years continued, my mother became more and more involved in camp,” said her daughter, Kelsey, in a letter written on the Cole Sawyer memorial website.

“She became a member of the Advisory Board; and in recent years the president of the Advisory Board for Camp Kemo. Often at our dinners, she talked about camp, what decorations she had, ideas about activities, who gave a kind donation to help. In a binder, she kept all things Camp Kemo-related; I found handwritten notes from friends and donors. Stacy Sawyer oozed everything Camp Kemo related.”

The Sawyers, with another family, the Fawcetts, began discussing the idea of another camp that would allow for year-round experiences for children and adults who have a variety of needs. However, the dream was temporarily halted when Stacy died suddenly in 2016 after a stroke.

That’s when the Fawcetts stepped up with a donation of land on Garner’s Ferry Road that will be developed into a fully operational, year-round facility that would be both ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and ACA (American Camper Association) compliant.

“We want this to be a one-of-a-kind facility that could be used by children and adults who are facing all kinds of difficulties in life: diabetes, sickle cell, cancer, PTSD, and other challenges,” said Deans Fawcett. “With the help of two very large donations from the Norman and Gerri Sue Arnold Foundation and Bebie Chambers, we are on our way to our goal of raising $7 million.”

“My daughter, Latan, got real excited about this venture, and I thought it just sounded like a wonderful idea, and I know the people involved in the project will make it a beautiful place for all to enjoy,” said Chambers.

The 40-acre facility is scheduled to open summer 2020. Fawcett said the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina is partnering with Camp Cole to offer in-kind construction services.

According to its brochure, Camp Cole will provide “children and young adults with experiences that could help them developmentally grow, as well as, provide adults with opportunities to build connections with others and strengthen our community’s roots. Camp Cole will serve as a sanctuary where all children and adults are safe, regardless of their need and/or disability.”