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JULIAN McWILLIAMS | INDEX-JOURNAL

Burns Newsome will begin kayaking for CAMP KEMO March 25.


Burns Newsome loves kayaking. It’s something that he, along with his dog, Bean, have always done together living on Saluda Lake in Greenville.

“I’ve just been big into kayaking,” Newsome said. “Going outdoors is fun.”

But there was something deeper that inspired Newsome to turn his passion for kayaking and being out on the water into a positive cause after learning that a young girl, Lily Baggot -- who was a part of his family ‘s church -- was battling cancer.

“My mom is a former pastor (at a church) in Winnsboro,” Newsome said. “There was a girl there (Baggot) who was diagnosed with leukemia, and I think everyone in the church was really shaken up by this. … So, that’s what’s been on my mind for a while”

That’s when Newsome came up with the idea that he would kayak from his house on the Saluda Lake in Greenville to Charleston in order to raise money for CAMP KEMO, a program that gives children with cancer an opportunity to still be a part of camp and was also where Baggot attended.

“It’s a camp for kids to go to that are fighting cancer,” Newsome said. “This camp allows kids to interact with other kids who are dealing with these same issues, and there are activities they can do. It is standard camping, but the most important thing is the support the camp provides them.”

Newsome also speaks from what he says is a semi-personal level after seeing a close friend from his childhood battle cancer at such a young age like Baggot.

“I remember my friend Casey was battling leukemia herself as a kid,” Newsome said. “And she would go back and forth between Winston-Salem to get treatment, then come back home to see us, and everybody knew that was the kid with cancer.”

Baggot has now been in recovery for three years from all leukemia, and has since returned to CAMP KEMO to be a positive influence on the kids who are still fighting cancer.

Newsome, meanwhile, saw this as the perfect opportunity for him to raise awareness because he has some free time after just finishing his master’s degree.

“While I had the time off I figure it would be a really fun thing to do,” Newsome said. “And then with CAMP KEMO in the back of my head, I figured ‘hey this would be a really good opportunity to help them out.’”

He will begin his excursion on March 25. and it will take about a week-and-a-half to three weeks. For the most part, Newsome will be setting up his camping tent to rest, traveling no more than 30 miles a day.

Newsome projects he will be traveling through the Greenwood area starting March 28.

Contact staff writer Julian McWilliams at 864-223-1814 or on Twitter@JulianMack105