In 1988, the late actor Paul Newman founded the first Hole in the Wall Camp, in Ashford, CT.
The camp’s name came from the hideout made famous by the hugely popular film, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” that starred Newman and Robert Redford.
Today, there are Hole in the Wall Camps in New York, Florida, California, North Carolina, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, France, the UK and countries in Africa and Asia.
Newman’s generosity – as well as that of the donors and volunteers who make the camps possible – has touched more than 164,500 children who are struggling with life-threatening and terminal diseases.
In Ashford alone, each summer more than 1,000 children between the ages of 7 and 15 from across the country and abroad attend The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp free of charge. The camp also offers parent support programs, outreach, reunions and other programs year-round.
Newman was very modest about this accomplishment. He once described his desire to found a children’s camp simply as gratitude:
“I wish I could recall with clarity the impulse that compelled me to help bring this camp into being. I’d be pleased if I could announce a motive of lofty purpose. I’ve been accused of compassion, of altruism, of devotion to Christian, Hebrew and Moslem ethic, but however desperate I am to claim ownership of a high ideal, I cannot. I wanted, I think, to acknowledge Luck; the chance of it, the benevolence of it in my life, and the brutality of it in the lives of others, made especially savage for children because they may not be allowed the good fortune of a lifetime to correct it.”
It was Newman’s hope that after his death the camps would continue to thrive and provide a place filled with warmth, compassion, children’s laughter and most of all, acceptance. Newman, who made his home in Westport, CT died at the age of 83 on Sept. 27, 2008.
On Monday, June 8 at 7 p.m., there will be a “Celebration of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camps,” at the Lincoln Center – Avery Fisher Hall in New York.
It will be hosted by Newman’s wife of 50 years, actress Joanne Woodward, his good friend Robert Redford and Julia Roberts and there will be performances by Joshua Bell, Harry Connick, Jr., Art Garfunkel, Yo-Yo Ma, Jerry Seinfeld, Take 6, James Taylor and the Hole in the Wall Campers.
The evening will benefit the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps. Through the generosity of the Newman’s Own Foundation (funded by the sale of those salad dressings, spaghetti sauces, popcorn and other products) all expenses have been underwritten, which means 100 percent of ticket sales will be donated to the Hole in the Wall Camps Foundation.
For ticket information, visit the Lincoln Center Web site, or click here.
(Special benefactor tickets, which include an after-party, begin at $1,500 and are available for purchase through the Benefit Office by calling 212-627-0678.)
Posted May 31, 2009