Campers share stage with superstars

Over The Wall campers took to the stage last week, to perform at the SeriousFun Children’s Network Gala, alongside superstars including Orlando Bloom, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Boy George and Natalie Pinkham.

The gala was organised to celebrate the work of SeriousFun Children’s Network – a global community of charities that provide free camps and programmes for seriously ill children, set up by Hollywood legend and philanthropist, Paul Newman.

Gala performer and camper, Johnathan, spent most of his childhood in hospital as he was born with a very rare genetic condition called Chronic Granulomatous Disorder (CGD), which means he can’t fight bacterial or fungal infections effectively. At five years old, doctors decided to put Jonathon through a Bone Marrow Transplant to save his life. Johnathan was also diagnosed with glaucoma and moderate to profound bilateral high frequency hearing loss, which means he is both severely vision and hearing impaired.

Jonathon sang, danced and completed a Rubix cube challenge on stage at the event as one of the child performers representing Over The Wall, the UK charity member of SeriousFun Children’s Network.

“The last five days have been absolutely amazing!” said Jonathon “The show last night was definitely the best part.  We campers, the volunteers and Over the Wall staff all worked so hard for the show and we did it!  This is a memorable experience.  I learned a lot and made lots lifelong friends. Thank you Over the Wall!”

The annual event, which was sponsored by Abercrombie & Fitch Co., took place at the Round House in London and drew a crowd of over 400 people. The evening was filled with songs, performances, celebrity guest appearances and a silent auction which helped raise funds for Over The Wall.

Jonathon’s mum, Amelia Gao said: “Although lots of unpleasant things have happened to this young man, he is always positive, brave and has a bright smile on his face. This is because Over The Wall camp has motivated him, encouraged him, brought him bright hope. Although life will not be easy because of Jonathon’s disabilities, there are always delightful parts worth striving for and treasuring!”

Other comments from campers included Jessica, who said: “There are no words to describe how good it was! It was like being back at camp. The night was incredible and I want to do it all again!” and Leo who said: “It was amazing – I felt so exhilarated on stage. It was a long day and night but it was such a buzz there was so much energy in the room. We all just got on so well I’ve made friends for life – we should go on tour!”

Television presenter and Formula One pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham hosted the event, before the campers closed the ceremony.