Camp Soaring Eagle Names New Executive Director

Camp Soaring Eagle Names New Executive Director

Scottsdale, AZ – (February 1, 2016) – Camp Soaring Eagle, which provides year-round, medically-supervised camping programs to children and family members from across Arizona with chronic illnesses, recently named Charles “Chuck” Wendt as Executive Director.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to be a part of this incredible organization,” said Wendt.

“So many children with serious illnesses don’t have the chance to enjoy what a camp experience can offer—to laugh and have fun is so rewarding to them as well as those around them. Through the power of philanthropy every child gets to attend along with their families at no cost.”

Wendt brings more than 20 years of successful fundraising experience, most recently as President/CEO of the Montana State University Billings Foundation. Prior to that he was Deputy Director for Advancement at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Wendt has spent many years in the corporate environment as Director of Marketing for a Fortune 500 company.  A native of Colorado, he holds degrees from the University of Denver.

Camp Soaring Eagle offers six different types of camping programs: Illness Specific Camping Weekends, Illness Specific Family Retreats, Sibling Camper Weekends, Summer Camp Program, Camp Outreach and Veterans’ Children Weekends.  For more information visit

‘Mattress Queen’ Debbie Gaby Joins Camp Soaring Eagle as Camp Ambassador

‘Mattress Queen’ Debbie Gaby Joins Camp Soaring Eagle as Camp Ambassador

Former President and Co-Founder of Leading Local Retailer Turns Focus to Philanthropy

Phoenix (May 11, 2015) — Debbie Gaby, former president and co-founder of Arizona mattress company Sleep America, has announced that she will be a camp ambassador, representing Camp Soaring Eagle, a nonprofit focused on providing laughter to thousands of seriously ill children by giving them the opportunity to go to a medically supervised camp at no cost to the campers and families.

“Debbie represents all that is good about bringing awareness to causes that are important to so many people,” said Mike Hammer, Executive Director for Camp Soaring Eagle “We cannot thank her enough for her ongoing support of our camp mission, and for her loving and generous commitment to put smiles on the faces of as many campers as possible”

Gaby co-founded Sleep America in 1997 with her husband Len, before retiring earlier this year from the mattress industry and turning her focus to Debbie Gaby Charities (formerly Sleep America Charities), her organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for others by providing assistance, support and other resources to deserving nonprofits.

Since its inception, Gaby and her charity have supported more than 500 organizations, including Camp Soaring Eagle. So far her support includes donating more than 140 Tempur-Pedic mattresses to the campsite, with an estimated value of more than $200,000, and chairing several fundraising events.

“I am honored and privileged to be the ambassador for this extraordinary organization,” added Gaby. “The time at camp represents a dream come true for many seriously ill children that would otherwise never have such an experience. We look forward to bringing many more children to the camp in the near future!”

Gaby’s accolades include receiving the World of Community Service Award from the Girl Scouts of Arizona, the “Hope” Award from the Banner of Hope , being named “Business Leader of the Year” by the YWCA and being honored for her entrepreneurial excellence by Working Woman magazine. She has also received the 2000 Golden Heart of Business Award, 2000 Arthritis Awareness Award, 2000 Vera Beaton Volunteer Award, the 1999 Spirit of Philanthropy Award and the 1999 Crohn’s & Colitis Women of Distinction Award. In 2013 she was awarded the Inspiring Hope Award by Camp Soaring Eagle.

2014 Volunteer Awards

2014 Volunteer Awards

Owen Blackshaw , Volunteer of the Year 2014

blog-thumb-owen-blackshawOwen began volunteering with us when he joined us at one of our Diabetes Camper weekends. Right off the bat he jumped right in, connected not only with our campers but with other volunteers and staff as well! After that weekend, he did not miss a beat and suddenly was hooked on all of our camper weekends. He is creative, talented as our camp photographer, passionate about our campers and mission and has created lasting memories within our organization! Thank you Owen!

Laurie Smith, Volunteer of the Year 2014

blog-thumb-laurie-smithYou will always know what the National Holiday is as soon as you see Laurie. She is queen of accessories! She is a child at heart with a laugh and personality that you can’t help but want to be around. She has gone above and beyond volunteering with us. She has attended almost every camp weekend and always comes with a smile and willingness to jump right in with our campers. She has been our camp nurse as well as volunteer leader and we can’t that you enough for all the time and dedication you have given our campers! Thank you for always bringing the laughter!

Erin McDonald, Commitment Award 2014

blog-thumb-erin-mcdonaldErin does a little bit of everything with us. She has traveled across the country with us on multiple occasions, joined us as a unit leader, recruited volunteers for our camper weekends, gave our camper moms amazing make overs at family retreats, helped in fundraising efforts and has been with us since the beginning! She is the true definition of dedication. We are truly grateful for all of the hard work, time, energy and dedication you have given to our campers and their families. Thank you so much for all you do and memories you have created!

Kyle Hodge, Courage Award 2014

blog-thumb-kyle-hodgeOne of the favorite stories that is told is about Kyle and his costume for one of our Halloween Camper Weekends. He was dressed as Superman and came walking across the field, the wind was blowing his cape back and it was like a scene from a movie. Our campers all rushed outside to see Superman walking across the field on his way to join us for dinner. They were all so excited….then realized Kyle came walking in. That did not diminish their excitement at all, because he really is Superman. The campers flock to him, they trust him and they laugh with him. He connects with our campers and their families and provides amazing memories! Thank you Kyle for being our Superman!