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A product of the State University systems of New York and New Jersey, Mervis holds a bachelor's degree in Recreation Administration and a master's degree in Urban Sociology. He also has attended post-graduate programs at the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Best known for founding Camp Good Days & Special Times, Inc., he also has been involved for many years in amateur and professional athletics and local and statewide politics.
Mervis, who serves as chairman and founder of Camp Good Days & Special Times, presently works as an Assistant Football Coach at St. John Fisher Collage.
In the political arena, Mervis worked for 20 years with the New York State Assembly. In the Assembly, he served as Executive Assistant to former New York State Assemblyman and Monroe County Republican Chairman Don W. Cook. He served for seven years as an Administrative Aide to Assembly Speaker and Minority Leader Perry B. Duryea and completed his work with the Assembly as Executive Assistant to Assemblyman James F. Nagle.
Over the years, he earned a reputation as an effective political strategist, and has personally directed or planned the strategy for over 75 campaigns, including Supreme, County, Surrogate and Family Court Judgeships, City and Town Council, County Legislature, County Executive, Governor, Congress, Sheriff, State Assembly and Senate. He also has been a guest speaker at local high schools and colleges, and has conducted numerous seminars on campaigning.
It was in 1979 that Mervis discovered his youngest daughter, Teddi, was suffering from a malignant brain tumor. In response to Teddi's illness, he founded Camp Good Days & Special Times, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation whose purpose is to improve the quality of life for children who have been dealt a difficult hand in life through no fault of their own. The camp assists children who have been touched by cancer or AIDS, have been severely burned, or are physically challenged. And most recently, children who have been touched by another form of cancer: violence.
Under his leadership, Camp Good Days & Special Times has grown to sponsor 20 different programs throughout the year with an operating budget approaching two million dollars. Since its inception in 1980, many of the innovative programs, designed by Mervis for Camp Good Days, have been used as models by other childhood cancer treatment centers and organizations in the United States and around the world. Today, Camp Good Days & Special Times is the largest organization of its kind for children with cancer in the entire country. With offices throughout Upstate New York and Central Florida, it has accomplished all of this without ever taking one dollar of government funding.
Camp Good Days & Special Times has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star, Daily News, USA Today, McCalls, Family Circle, Outdoor Life and Seventeen Magazine, in addition to several major professional and medical journals. Camp Good Days has been the focus of four award-winning documentaries, and has received positive support in the print and electronic media in Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, Rome, Binghamton, Albany, Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Mervis and Camp Good Days were featured in a full-length book, "For the Love of Teddi," written by Dr. Lou Buttino, a professor at St. John Fisher College, in Rochester, New York, and published by Praeger Press in 1990.
In an article on Mervis and Camp Good Days, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle quoted then State Senator Fred Eckert: "Your cause has made an indelible impression on me." Eckert said of Mervis. "... I have marveled at your indomitable spirit as you cope with a burden that has befallen Teddi and your family by bringing life and kindness and hope to so many other children and their families."
Because of his extensive work in the community, Mervis was chosen Man of the Year by the Rochester Police Locust Club and received the prestigious Jefferson Award for outstanding public service. He also has been honored by the National Association of Social Workers and the Monroe County Republican Committee, and was the recipient of the Ronald Kilpatrick Humanitarian Award. The Mervises were named Family of the Year by the Pittsford Teachers Association.
In addition, Mervis was the recipient of the National Council of Jewish Women's Hannah G. Solomon Award for Community Service. He also received the Edward Mott Moore Award, the highest honor the Medical Society of the County of Monroe bestows, for his many substantial contributions to the community and the medical professions.
Gary Mervis was selected by the Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Inc., as a part of its 100th Anniversary, to be featured in a special poster (Building a Greater Rochester) honoring 100 Rochesterians whose efforts have helped to "build a better Rochester." Mervis also was chosen by Toastmasters International District 65 to receive its 1987 Communicator of the Year Award, and chosen by the East Rochester Memorial Post 1917 of the American Legion to receive its Award of Merit.
In 1988, Mervis was selected to serve as Vice President of the Dial-A-Teacher program of the Rochester City School District, a not-for-profit organization supported and founded by the Rochester Teachers Association. He also served as District Chairman for the Special Scouting Division of the Boys Scouts of America, Otetiana Council.
Monroe High School awarded him its Distinguished Graduate Award during Commencement Exercises in June 1988. During that same year, he was appointed to the American Cancer Society's National Task Force on Childhood Cancer. In 1989, Mervis received an Award for Outstanding Public Service by the Alumni Association of the State University of New York College at Brockport.
In 1990, Gary Mervis received the 33rd annual Distinguished Community Service Award from the Masonic Service Bureau of Rochester. Mervis also is the recipient of the prestigious J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award.
At a special ceremony in 1991, he received New York State's Decade of the Child Award from Governor and Mrs. Mario Cuomo. In 1991, he also received the Buffalo chapter's West Side Sportsman Association's annual Humanitarian Award.
In 1992, Mervis was inducted into the Monroe Community College Alumni Hall of Fame. In that same year, he also was inducted into the Rochester City School District's Brain Power Hall of Fame and received President George Bush's Point of Light Award.
Mervis received the DeWitt Clinton Masonic Award for Community Service in 1994 and the prestigious Eugene J. Mays Citizenship Award from Western New York Council of Communications Workers of America AFL-CIO. Also in 1994, Mervis and Camp Good Days received the Miracle Worker Award presented by the Strong Children's Medical Center. In 1995, Mervis was the commencement speaker at Keuka College.
Gary Mervis presently serves on the Board of Directors of the Fair Business Council of Rochester and is co-chairman of the Families and Friends of Murdered Children and Victims of Violence Advisory Board of the Urban League of Rochester.
Mervis is the father of two grown children, Tod and Kim. On June 10, 1995, Mervis married the former Wendy Beth Bleier of Irondequoit. Mrs. Mervis is a school teacher and coach in the Rush-Henrietta School District. The Mervises are residents of Pittsford, New York.
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