Camp Boggy Creek board members and staff were deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death yesterday of their dear friend Bruce Rossmeyer. For nearly 15 years Bruce, his family and his businesses have been an integral part of Camp life.
In October, 1995, Bruce staged his first Daytona Harley-Davidson Ride For Children. He had already selected a national charity to receive the proceeds for that event. Hearing about the ride, a camp volunteer met with Rossmeyer and suggested that adding a Florida based charity that could provide volunteers and help recruit riders might be helpful. He agreed and at the end of the first Ride, was so pleased with his interaction with the staff and volunteers of Camp Boggy Creek; he announced that from that point forward Camp would be the sole beneficiary for his Ride.
True to his word the Ride has grown to become one of the preeminent charity rides in Florida and, along with a Champagne Ball which he added to the weekend line up in 2004 at the 10th Anniversary Ride, has raised over $3.5 million for the children and families of Camp Boggy Creek. When his fundraising passed the million dollar mark he joined the ranks of camp founders that include, among others, Paul Newman and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
Along the way, numerous camp staffers have their own stories of witnessing the subtle changes in this forceful and often intimidating businessman. One long time employee reflected back to the on-stage presentation in year 4 of the Ride where a 9 year old little girl, herself a Boggy Creek camper, joined Bruce on stage to present his thank you gift. As the little girl read the inscription on the thank you plaque, tears began to run down the "big man’s" face. When it came to the children of Camp Boggy Creek, there was no softer heart.
In addition to his own involvement, his wife Sandy, his five children and their families have also been heavily involved in supporting Camp. At least once each summer, campers seated in the dining hall for lunch would hear the unexpected roar of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the doors would open and in would roll Bruce and any imaginable combination of family members. And, once the pipes cooled off, campers would be invited to crawl all over the bikes and ask questions of the World’s Largest Harley-Davidson dealer.
On his most recent visit to Camp for a June 12th board meeting wherein he outlined his plans for the upcoming 15th Annual Ride For Children, he joined the kids in the dining hall. While watching them eating, laughing and doing their cheers at full volume, he turned to those sharing his table and remarked, "I’ve got no problems…I look at these kids and…" At that point he quietly sat back down.
Camp Boggy Creek is a state of the art, year round facility that provides traditional camping experiences for children ages 7-16 suffering from chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Thanks to the generosity of Bruce Rossmeyer and so many others, Camp has served over 44,000 children and their family members since opening in 1996 at no cost to them or their families.
The Rossmeyer family selected Camp Boggy Creek as a charity to which memorial donations can be made in Bruce’s name. You may donate on-line at www.BoggyCreek.org or call 352-483-4200 x 676 (Monday-Friday) or mail your check payable to Camp Boggy Creek to 30500 Brantley Branch Road, Eustis, FL 32736. Donations are tax deductible.