We Take Our Hats Off To Paul Newman

On what would have been Paul Newman's 96th birthday, our community reflects on the positive impact he's had in their lives and the lives of so many.

SeriousFun Children's Network founder Paul Newman never wanted to be the focus of recognition or appreciation for the good he put out into and encouraged in the world. In terms of the impact and sustainability of SeriousFun camps, he once said, “The children come to camp free of charge thanks to the support of many people, like yourself, who donate generously both in time and finances. I take my hat off to all of you, for being a leader and giving back to the community.” 

So we asked some of our SeriousFun family to finish this sentence: In honor of his 96th birthday, I take my hat off to Paul Newman for... Here's what we heard about Paul. 


"In honor of his 96th birthday, I take my hat off to Paul Newman for ... "


"... being above all else, a decent human being that put others' needs before his own. Someone who never stopped caring or giving back. And truly understood the value of fun in one's life." - Kelly Elliot, Director of Operations, Quality & Due Diligence, SeriousFun (Connecticut)

"... his humility. In my lifetime, I believe three things have truly exceeded the hype. The iPhone. Hamilton. And Paul Newman. I had the honor of spending some time with Paul in the early days of Flying Horse Farms. I distinctly remember his kindness and humble engagement with others who he saw as equals if not more important in the building of camp. I remember his saying that he hoped others could feel the way he did when reflecting on the impact camp has had on so many lives." - Patrick Smith, Camp Director, North Star Reach (Michigan)

"... teaching us a very important thing every day: children with serious illnesses are children like any others." - Volunteer, Bátor Tábor (Hungary)


SFCN007 Paul group shot surrounded by male campers-1


"I take my hat off to Paul Newman for creating a place where children living with serious illness can get their childhood back." - Blathnaid, Staff Member, Barretstown (Ireland)


"... for being the real deal! He created a movement which literally spans the globe, and in typical humble Paul Newman fashion, the focus is always on the kids. Allowing the kids to forget their illness, just be kids and 'raise a little hell' was most important to Paul, and it is a value that still drives the camps and global programs to success today." - Chad Coltrane, President & CEO, Victory Junction (North Carolina)

"... recognizing the impact serious illness has on the whole family and bringing magic during a time that is every parent's nightmare." - Caroline, Staff Member, Barretstown (Ireland)

"... for seeing a need and going above and beyond to fill that need with the creation of SeriousFun camps.” - The Fry Family, Camp Korey (Washington)

"... acknowledging his luck and finding beautiful ways to share it with the world." - Mary Silvia, Associate Director of Partnership Programs, SeriousFun (Connecticut)


SFCN003 Paul having a joyful conversation-1


"I take my hat off to Paul Newman for being the best dad, and most importantly always showing me that one person can truly make a difference." - Clea Newman, Ambassador, SeriousFun (Connecticut)


"... his love and dedication to helping children all over the world." - Nicola, Staff Member, Barretstown (Ireland)

"... for being a man of inspiration, action, and abundant good will; for launching Newman's Own and giving away 100% of profits to great causes; for setting the standard against which all other philanthropic enterprises are measured; and for doing the right thing without ever asking first if it was practical or popular." - Dr. Miriam Nelson, CEO, Newman's Own Foundation (Connecticut)

"... always believing in luck and knowing what a difference you can make in peoples' lives if you reach out and offer your support." - John, Staff Member, Barretstown (Ireland)

“... without Paul’s guidance and support, Victory Junction would not be the strong organization that it is today. Sixteen years after our founding, over 80,000 Victory Junction experiences have been delivered to families in all 50 states and 4 countries because of an extraordinary man and his vision. To empower extraordinary kids to just be kids.”– Kyle Petty, Founder, Victory Junction (North Carolina)


SFCN015 Paul Newman   Campers painting


"I take my hat off to Paul Newman for founding this wonderful organization, where nothing is impossible. Now, we know we are not alone. We know we are just as valuable as everyone else." - Camper, Bátor Tábor (Hungary)


"... seeing the need for children with serious illnesses and understanding the power of community." - Alexis Madrid, Director of Development, The Painted Turtle (California)

"... creating these worldwide camps that make such an incredible difference to campers and their families. It is a privilege and an honor to be a volunteer to see the happiness on campers' faces when they get to camp warms my heart. Their resilience and strength inspires me every day." - Sue Wakefield, Volunteer, Over The Wall (United Kingdom)

"... planting the incredible seed of kindness and compassion, for it grew a fruitful tree that spans the globe, feeding and inspiring the souls of everyone involved." - Jessica Santos, Communications Manager, The Painted Turtle (California)


SFCN008 Paul with fishing gear-1


"I take my hat off to Paul Newman for giving my son the chance to be that little boy with a huge smile —  who he was before his illness." - Camper Parent, Bátor Tábor (Hungary)


"... creating a place where I can rip up my 'cool card' and be my true self; for providing campers, volunteers, and staff with a community who inspires us to break out of our comfort zones and try news things. I take my hat off to Paul Newman because, if he had not created SeriousFun Children's Network, I would not have found my favorite place in the world: camp." - Sarah Rudy, Program Director, Camp Korey (Washington)

"... having the vision to create, and then support and develop, a global network of camps that have brought so much happiness, joy and transformational change to children living with serious health challenges and their families." - Kevin Mathieson, CEO, Over The Wall (United Kingdom)

"... creating magic moments in the lives of families who thought all the magic was gone." - Catherine, Staff Member, Barretstown (Ireland)


SFCN001 Paul with bowl on head copy-1


"I take my hat off to Paul Newman for the selfhood he gave back to my son! Here, here's someone." - Camper Parent, Dynamo Camp (Italy)


"... his humble leadership and courage to take a little bit of risk in fulfilling his vision to enhance the lives of the inspirational campers that we have the privilege to work with throughout the world. In his words, we shared a reciprocal trade agreement with one another, a kind of rotating circle of both respect and affection. His spirit continues to lead us in ways that truly can't be defined." - Max Yurenda, CEO, Double H Ranch (New York)

"... taking the first steps in a journey leading to millions of laughs." - Camper Parent, Bátor Tábor (Hungary)

"... continuing to selflessly strive to support children with serious health challenges and their families. His legacy and spirit continues to live on in the work we do every day, and for that we are grateful!" - Jessica Doletzky, Hospital Outreach Coordinator, North Star Reach (Michigan)


SFCN010 Paul in a row boat-1


"I take my hat off to Paul Newman for creating a place that so many people can call home." - Sissy Phillips, Communications, North Star Reach (Michigan)


"... leading by example and showing us all how to give a little more of ourselves for the good of others. What he probably never expected or maybe he did is that in acting more like him through the simple act of giving, our hearts and lives would be enriched beyond our wildest expectations." - Blake Maher, CEO, SeriousFun Children's Network (Connecticut)

"... improving the lives of children living with serious illnesses all over Ireland." - Dee Ahearn, CEO, Barretstown (Ireland)

"... creating a space for kids, volunteers, staff and families to find a little camp magic in unexpected places." - Mike "Coach" Parker, Volunteer Director, North Star Reach (Michigan)

"...inspiring us every day to try our best —  for ourselves, for our work, and for the children." - Lisa-Marie, Staff Member, Barretstown (Ireland)


SFCN014 Paul  2 group shot surrounded by female campers-1


"I take my hat off to Paul Newman for giving us all a chance to make a difference." - Ami Walsh, Experience Design Strategist, North Star Reach (Michigan)


Thank you, and happy birthday, Paul!



As the health and safety of our campers, families, volunteers, and staff is always our top priority, we're closely monitoring COVID-19 here at SeriousFun. To learn more and check on the status of upcoming or future camp and program sessions, please click here

To learn more about SeriousFun Children's Network, visit www.seriousfunnetwork.org or contact us at info@seriousfunnetwork.org 


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