It was a big Night at the Farm.

After a decade of holding the annual Maine Suitcase Party at a South Portland hangar where guests could win the chance to fly to New York City in a private jet that very night, Camp Sunshine instead hosted a down-home barn party Sept. 8 at Shaw Cherry Hill Farm in Gorham.

“We wanted to shake it up and do something new,” said Chief Executive Officer Joanne Bean. “And this is turning out to be the largest single fundraising event in Camp Sunshine’s 39-year history.”

The net fundraising total was $300,000 – enough to send 60 families to the Sebago Lake retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

The record-breaker was largely attributed to being in a higher-capacity venue – with more than 1,200 tickets sold at $100 each. Guests enjoyed country band American Ride and line-dancing lessons, hors d’oeuvres and dessert buffets, three bars, cornhole, photo booths, a silent auction, and homemade ice cream from Beals on Wheels.

“This is more than wonderful,” said Ron Stultz of Gorham, who attended with his wife, Brenda. “We wanted to donate money, so we did. And I’m not sorry.”


Guests included Rocco and Stacy Sinclair of Gray, who attended Camp Sunshine in 2022 and 2023 with their children Jazmyn, 16; Jake, 9; and Trevor, 11. Both boys have Alport syndrome, which affects hearing, vision and kidneys.

“At camp, our boys get to be themselves, they get to feel normal,” Rocco Sinclair said. “It’s like a second family.”

“We can talk with other families, and they really do know what you’re going through,” added Stacy Sinclair. “You don’t feel alone. It’s the magic of real human connection.”

While the Sinclairs are local, families have come to Camp Sunshine in Casco from all 50 states and from 27 countries. Thanks in large part to fundraising, the families don’t pay a thing.

The next big Camp Sunshine fundraiser is the Pumpkin Festival at L.L. Bean (noon to 8 p.m. Oct. 21). Then, save the date for the return of the Maine Suitcase Party for the nonprofit’s 40th anniversary: Sept. 20, 2024.

“We’re going to switch between Night at the Farm and Maine Suitcase Party every other year,” said board chair Anna Gould, who co-founded Camp Sunshine with her late husband, Larry Gould.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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