Artist Anne Lacy was not one to talk about her cancer, but she expressed herself through drawings and watercolors of fields and fauna.
“She was being honored by the Adirondack Council at Great Camp Uncus, a sister camp to Great Camp Sagamore,” Wikoff said.
As Wikoff surveyed the spectacular surroundings, he thought it would be the perfect spot for a retreat for women living with cancer. There, they could connect with nature and create art.
Beverly Bridger, executive director at Sagamore, offered her place. Nine months later, in September, the first retreat was held.
Wikoff recruited storyteller Fran Yardley and singer-songwriter Peggy Lynn. Ten people attended. In subsequent years, attendance increased to 30 attendees and more faculty was added.
Creative Healing Connections eventually outgrew Sagamore, and a 501c3 through the Adirondack Community Trust was created.
Inspired by his poet/veteran father, Wikoff tried to establish a parallel program for men but was not successful in securing funding.
Five years ago, a program was established for women veteran’s dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and rape. The retreat was held at Wiawaka Holiday House on Lake George because of its proximity to the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center.
“We wanted to make it a little more accessible to that population,” Wikoff said.
It, too, started out with 10 participants and doubled in size. Now, there are two retreats for women veterans, and they both sell out.
“We do everything we can to raise money so anyone who wants to go can go,” Wikoff said.
Full, half and quarter scholarships are offered to women warriors who come from around the country.
“We don’t want to turn anyone away. The women veterans told us there is nothing like it in the country,” he said.
Three years ago, a retreat for first responders was created with partners Paul Smith’s College, Col. Eric Olsen and Homeward Bound, formerly called Patriot Hill.