EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Family and friends are sharing memories of an Eau Claire man who left a life-changing legacy. John Finney died last Saturday. He was 75. His funeral was scheduled for Friday. Finney is best known for starting Joshua's Camp.
Joshua’s Camp is a non-profit retreat-like weekend that gives kids with cancer a chance to escape for a moment.
The name of the camp was inspired by a family whose son, Joshua, had hoped that every child with cancer and their family could experience the joy of just being a kid at a camp. Joshua didn’t survive cancer, but his legacy and dream live on.
Friends say that legacy will continue because of Finney.
“He lets kids forget they have cancer for a little while and their families to enjoy being a family again,” said Benny Anderson of Metropolis Resort
Anderson serves on Joshua’s Camp Executive Advisory Board. The resort is also where the camp unfolds.
“John spent his entire career as an audiologist helping people hear, but he spent his entire retirement helping people see the world,” said Anderson.
It was in September of 2010, Finney pitched the idea for Joshua’s Camp. He asked for the support of local businesses like Metropolis Resort.
“You could have a charity that started with nothing 2 1/2 years ago, before we ever had camp that could now raise over a $100,000 to help people just on the inspiration that he did,” he said.
Bill Bertrand of Morrie’s Mazda is also on the advisory board. He said Finney came to Morrie’s a few years ago after buying a vehicle.
“I think that’s the first interaction we had with him,” said Bertrand. “He bought a car from us and came to us one day and asked if we would support this little cause called Joshua’s Camp. Of course at that point in time, we had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.”
But today, the non-profit camp has grown and is serving dozens of families.
“So this really went from having a small camp of ten kids a year to having a couple camps a year and meeting the needs of families and John and his legacy was able to do that without having one single employee ever work for Joshua’s Camp,” said Bertrand.
Bertrand said Finney also leaves behind a lesson.
“I think the things he taught be - how to give and the spirit of giving and being part of the Eau Claire community. That definitely is going to live on with me and that pay it forward aspect that I try to do every day.”