Compassionate Camper

Meet Cass Marie Downing, hostess of AIDS Network's Mad Camp Bingo

Where are you from? Well you’ve probably seen the Geico insurance commercial with the Cabbage Patch Kid by now, right? Let’s just say that he and I have a lot in common. Only my patch was right here in Madison.

How did you get involved with the AIDS Network? I got involved in 1995 after I was diagnosed with HIV. I heard they had a great dentist referral and wanted to check him out!  And yes, they do! 

And what exactly is Camp Bingo? Camp Bingo is exactly how it is stated—Not your grandmother’s bingo. Although, I have seen a few there through the years. Boy you should’ve seen their faces when they realized what was really up!! You see, we pick themes for each month and then dress accordingly to the theme. Sunday, March 30th, will be “Bingo in Oz.”

It is a great fundraiser to raise dollars for the AIDS Network so they are able to continue providing care to people with HIV/AIDS. This year, it’s at Madison’s very own beautiful Edgewater Hotel.  A big thank you to the staff and management of the hotel.

What other things do you enjoy? I have been an entertainer for 16 yrs. I love dancing—it is a great way to help raise money for people in need. Not to mention healthy. I’ve raised funds for hospice, cancer, AIDS and the Rodney Scheel House. I rode 313 miles on a bicycle last summer for ACT 5, the Wisconsin AIDS Ride. I, myself being in recovery from drugs and alcohol for eight years now, help facilitate a 12-step program for women who are incarcerated. I volunteer for some children who have lost their mother due to domestic violence. For my job, I am a certified nursing assistasnt and feel that helping people is my calling.

And what has you smiling now? This question. It has me thinking of things like puppies, kittens and babies. Playing with my dog. Remembering when my grandma taught me how to hook a worm. EEEK! Playing at the park and letting my inner child out big time. Having gratitude and  knowing that I am ok and very blessed today.