GAWDA Gives Back 2015 Campaign

GAWDA President Tom Biedermann and his wife Terri took their responsibility of finding two needy organizations to receive this year’s donations to GAWDA Gives Back very seriously. The Biedermann’s visited several non-profit groups in the Scottsdale area, looked at donation lists, government funding, and other paperwork. They wanted to find organizations with limited resources, were doing good work, and were making a positive difference in the lives of those less fortunate. As stewards of GAWDA members’ significant monetary donation, they searched for organizations that were under the radar and not getting a lot of help from other sources.

Since its inception in 2000, GAWDA members have donated almost $2 million to needy groups in the Annual Convention’s host city. You can read how and why GAWDA Gives Back was formed and the organizations that have been the recipient of GAWDA members’ generosity in Welding & Gases Today Online at

Ultimately, Tom and Terri Biedermann chose two very worthwhile organizations that met all of their criteria: Camp Soaring Eagle and Ryan House.

Camp Soaring Eagle recently purchased its own permanent camp location in Cornville, Arizona, that will accommodate up to 80 campers at a time and offer a camp experience year round. The previous camp was limited to 25 campers per session.

Camp Soaring Eagle
Every child deserves a chance to laugh, play and just be a kid

Camp Soaring Eagle’s mission is to give children with serious illnesses the chance to discover the healing power of laughter and the sheer joy of play that sickness has too long denied them. Camp Soaring Eagle provides experiences filled with excitement, challenge and unimaginable fun, all in a medically safe setting—at no charge to the campers and families. Camp Soaring Eagle provides year-round, medically supervised, camping programs to children and family members from across Arizona with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Six different types of camping programs are conducted: : Illness Specific Camping Weekends, Illness Specific Family Retreats, Sibling Camper Weekends, Summer Camp Program, Camp Outreach and Veterans’ Children Weekends.

Depending on the program, campers enjoy a wide range of activities such as horseback riding, fishing, archery and crafts. Each event is specifically tailored to the child’s individual needs and medical restrictions. Campers are usually referred to Camp Soaring Eagle from their pediatricians. Medical professionals volunteer to provide the highest level of safety and care.

“Camp is a great adventure, something healthy kids look forward to and a place they can experience new things and make new friends,” says Juan Morales, Camp Soaring Eagle’s executive director of camp operations. “Unfortunately for children suffering from serious illnesses, their medical conditions make a traditional camp experience out of the question, and that’s where Camp Soaring Eagle comes in.”

Illness-specific programs are geared towards campers and families facing a variety of illnesses such as: blood disorders, cancer, bowel diseases, respiratory diseases and type 1 diabetes. Camp Soaring Eagle gives children a chance to interact with peers facing the same battles and a place where they don’t have to feel alone or different anymore.

Camp Soaring Eagle provides a place for children to get away from the everyday pressures of their illness and medical treatments and lets them just be kids.

On the outside Ryan House looks like an average brick house; inside it’s a children’s wonderland of themed rooms.

Ryan House
Helping children and families navigate life-limiting and end-of-life journeys

Ryan House is a 12,500 sq. ft. home built to provide respite care, pediatric palliative care, and end-of-life care as well as appropriate therapies and activities in a supportive, home-like setting where all are welcome. Palliative care for children with life-limiting conditions is an active and total approach to care, embracing physical, emotional, social and spiritual elements, offering a lifeline of support to both the children and families caring for them. Ryan House has eight bedrooms for children, each with their own theme such as The Camp Fire, Once Upon a Time, and the Wild, Wild West. The cabins, designed to meet the unique needs of children who stay there, each have a daybed where friends and relatives can spend the night.

Ryan House is one of only two such organizations in the United States. Services are provided at no cost to families. Annual operating expenses at Ryan House total more than two million dollars. For families, a few days at Ryan House does wonders to recharge the batteries and to ease the burden of round-the-clock care for their child.

Ryan House offers a lifeline of support to children and families caring for them.

GAWDA Gives Back Through the Years

Now in its 15th year, GAWDA members have donated almost $2 million to local charities in the Annual convention’s host city. Read Where’d the Money Go? To learn where your donations went.

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