With cookie boxes in hand, these young attendees of last year’s Cookie N’ Dreams event look pretty happy.
With cookie boxes in hand, these young attendees of last year’s Cookie N’ Dreams event look pretty happy.

Camp Mak-A-Dream fundraiser marks 20 years.

Karen Schwartz Contributing Writer

Above: With cookie boxes in hand, these young attendees of last year’s Cookie N’ Dreams event look pretty happy.

Kate Michaels, 12, spent a special week this summer at Camp Mak-A-Dream in Montana. There were horses to ride, a climbing wall, art, bonfires — and the chance to connect with other kids who’ve been affected by cancer.

Michaels, age 4 when she was diagnosed with kidney cancer and went through about 19 months of treatment, enjoyed her time at the camp, says her mother, Amanda Michaels of Waterford. “She had a great experience; I feel like it was a great thing for her.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, Friends of Camp Mak-A-Dream, Michigan Chapter will host its 20th annual Cookies N’ Dreams  event to help support the cost-free camp experience and Michigan kids who want to attend.

Held at Somerset Collection in Troy, the family-friendly event invites guests to sample cookies from 15 to 18 area bakers and then vote on their favorites. There will also be food, face painting and live entertainment, including a magic show.

Proceeds — Cookies N’ Dreams has raised more than $2 million since it began — help pay for airfare for Michigan participants headed to the camp, which also draws campers from other cities with oncology hospitals, explains Hadar Granader of Bloomfield Hills, whose older brother Harry founded the camp with his wife, Sylvia, in 1995.

“You see these kids’ faces; some of them have never left home before and here they’re traveling on an airplane. It just makes all of us involved feel good that what we’re doing is good, and the results are also good,” says Granader, who serves on the board.

Volunteers hand out cookies at last year’s event.
Volunteers hand out cookies at last year’s event. Newsroom

The late Harry and the late Sylvia Granader donated 87 acres of their Montana ranch plus seed money to construct the camp. The impetus came from Harry’s background as a builder. He got involved with helping to build the Ronald McDonald Houses in Ann Arbor and Detroit, then, in 1991, decided to start the camp, which opened with 46 children for one camp session. Now, 70 to 80 kids from Michigan, ages 6-21, attend annually. There is a medical facility on site, with doctors and nurses in attendance.

Zina Kramer of Bloomfield Hills had the idea for Cookies N’ Dreams. “I think every good cause starts with somebody’s dream, and that was really [Harry and Sylvia’s] dream, to create that camp,” she says. “That was part of how I came up with the name of Cookies N’ Dreams. It was that notion, that we were going to have a cookie-tasting combined with the dream created by the Granaders.”

As for the setting, she thought of longtime family friend Tony Jacob, a physician who had cancer and had joined the board. His daughter and son-in-law Catherine and Nathan Forbes are co-owners of Somerset Collection in Troy. The cause quickly became a family affair, says Tony’s wife, Connie Jacob, Friends board president.

In addition, the event also features a storytelling and activity area honoring Tony. “And then all the grandchildren got involved,” Jacob says of the event that draws kids, parents and grandparents alike. “Everybody just loves participating. It’s geared toward the children from the minute they arrive until the minute they leave.”

Friends of Camp Mak-A-Dream helps support camp for kids, teens, siblings and young adults who’ve been affected by cancer, as well as brain tumor survivors. The facility also separately hosts women’s cancer camps.

For the 20th anniversary, the group raised an extra $37,000 for a van to be used to transport campers from the airport to camp.

Meanwhile, the camp, which has welcomed more than 7,000 children and young adults through its doors, continues creating positive experiences for those whose lives have been impacted by cancer.

Tickets for the Oct. 24 event, 5-7:30 p.m. at the Somerset Collection in Troy, are $60 for adults; kids 17 and younger pay their age; children 3 and younger are free. Go to campdreammich.org/cookies-n-dreams-registration.