the Dalmau Sisters

The Dalmau family never imagined that their oldest daughter, Valerie, would be diagnosed with cancer at twelve years old and pass away just a year later. 

They were grateful to find Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, which not only provided a community of support for Valerie and Amanda (age 9 at the time of her sister’s diagnosis) while they were in the midst of such a trying time in their lives, but even afterward when Amanda continued attending Camp for both herself and to honor her sister’s memory.  This year, Amanda, now 16 years old, was excited to bring along her youngest sister, Natalie (age 9), to share the Summer Camp experience with her. “She always told me about how good it was and that I really needed to go,” said Natalie. “It's kind of a tradition to go to camp ever since [Valerie] had cancer.”


Natalie initially had reservations about going to Camp. Being up in the mountains away from home with a cabin of people she’s never met before can be an intimidating situation!  Down the mountain, Amanda shared that Natalie had self-confidence issues, and resisted situations where it was okay to step out of her comfort zone and let loose with other people. Thankfully, Natalie immediately fell in love with Camp once she arrived. From making so many new friends, to trying new activities like fishing, archery, and making crayon art, her preconceived ideas went out the window and she ended up making great memories with her cabin sisters. “I loved seeing my sister in a different element,” shares Amanda.  “I didn't have to take care of Natalie since that was her counselors’ job, so I got to just watch her have fun and bond with her cabin. I also loved seeing her personality come out at the dance and campfire- she has a lot more sass than I thought!”  First-day-of-camp nerves are common, but the welcoming community of campers and counselors quickly fades any fears away.  Natalie advises to all new campers, “Don’t worry, it’s gonna be amazing!” 

Amanda has also felt herself grow in these past years attending Camp. Especially since joining the Wilderness Outdoor Leadership Program (W.O.L.P.), she found herself picking up leadership skills naturally and using it in and outside of Camp. She led several retreats last summer and she is the Team Captain for the W.O.L.P. Team in next year’s 5k Walk for Kids—Camp’s biggest fundraiser.  Amanda leaves us with these final heartfelt thoughts about her sister and Camp, “Camp helps me to remember that there are other people who have been through similar things as me, and it has helped me process Valerie’s passing while also being thankful for the times she had at Camp and the times we had together.”