Back to Blog Articles


Remembering Tilahun Belete Gushish
Click for Full Size

Remembering Tilahun Belete Gushish


He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. — Revelations 21:3-4 (verse from T’s Facebook)

This year has brought with it both joy and pain. I reflect on what this year has meant to me and who I will be forced to leave behind in the New Year. These last couple of weeks have been especially hard for me and the Camp Good Days family. We have lost many special people that were the backbone of this organization and helped me build it into what it is now; some of those have left us far too soon.

Tilahun “T” Gushish was a beloved member of the Camp Good Days family and a very special person to me. I first met T several years ago when a friend of mine, Dr. David Korones, asked me about our international campers’ program. He asked me if we would accept children from Ethiopia that were struggling with cancer. Dr. Korones had a patient that he was treating at Golisano children’s hospital that he helped bring over from Ethiopia. We had hosted children from all over the world but never had the opportunity presented itself to host a child from Ethiopia. I was very excited to be able to expand the program to more children. We knew we were blessed when T arrived that summer to attend Camp Good Days International Camp. Tilahun’s love of life and hope were contagious. He could truly light up any room that he entered. I marveled at the fact that such a young boy that had already survived poverty, homelessness, and now struggling with cancer was so strong and joyful.

 I will never forget when I brought the Rhinos head coach down to camp to see the children during T’s first summer at camp. Bob Lilley was the coach at the time, and he was mesmerized by what T could do. He said that T could do with one leg which some of his players couldn’t do with two! He made quite an impression on the coach that day as he did with everyone he met. He was just such an impressive young man you couldn’t help but feel that way.

Due to COVID, we lost touch for a couple of years, but in August of this year, we were able to reconnect. I drove down to camp with Wendy and as I was walking to my cabin along Teddi Lane, I saw T running toward me. I tell him how great it is to see him, and he returns the sentiment. He goes on to tell me that I might not know it, but that Camp Good Days saved his life and how happy he was that he came to camp. I was astounded by his words. I said to Wendy later in our cabin, is there a better job in the world than what I am blessed to have? I reveled in how amazing it was that I have this opportunity to change a child’s life like T’s. How can you put a value on that?

I was so grateful that throughout this past summer, we were able to renew our relationship and that I was able to present Tilahun as 2022’s Courage Award recipient. This award is given at our annual Courage Bowl to campers who are an example of courage, strength, and determination to all the children and families served by Camp Good Days & Special Times. T was all of these and more, he was a true inspiration to me and all of the Camp Good Days team.

It was extremely hard for me when I heard that Tilahun lost his battle with cancer. What gives me some peace is that I know that T is in heaven watching over us all. And because of this, he will be with us always. In times of distress, we will feel him giving us strength and in times of sorrow, he will give us joy. We will never leave T behind as he is with us always.

T’s services were this past Wednesday and Thursday. They were beautiful and exactly what I believe T would have wanted, everyone he loved together sharing cherished memories that they had with T. I was also so grateful to be able to meet T’s doctor from Ethiopia that played a pivotal role in getting T over here for treatment. Without his effort, we would not have been as lucky as we were to meet T.

In his 20 years of life, Tilahun was able to make an incredible impact on those who knew him. I know I speak for many when I say that T will be missed greatly. How he touched us and the impact that he had on every person he met will be with us forever. Camp Good Day will not be the same without having T there, but I know that he will be watching over us each and every summer.

God Bless,