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New Era’s generous gift to Cradle Beach means campers will enjoy a new theater

Soon whenever Cradle Beach campers belt out a song or dance in a show, join their friends to watch a movie or listen to someone giving an educational talk, they will have a brand new theater in which to do it.

An extremely generous gift of $540,000 from the Koch family and their company, New Era Cap Co., will fund the construction of a 4,500-square-foot, 350-seat theater at the camp in Angola. Groundbreaking for the New Era Performing Arts Center will take place this fall.

The facility will add another measure of fun for the hundreds of children with disabilities or from disadvantaged homes who look forward to spending time during the summer at Cradle Beach.

The residential camp, founded in 1888, has been a place of refuge where children can play while feeling safe, secure and loved. The Kochs are very familiar with the camp and its lasting positive effects.

As News staff reporter Tim O’Shei wrote, the idea for this donation began forming a couple of summers ago when New Era CEO Chris Koch and his wife, Lindsey, decided to take their two younger children, then 3 and 6, for a visit to Cradle Beach, which is near their summer home. That’s when the family witnessed campers in their element, playing, creating art and interacting with each other, staff and volunteers, and decided they needed to help.

The Kochs are generous by nature, having made donations in excess of a million dollars to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Last January James Tilley, the chairman of Cradle Beach’s capital campaign, asked New Era to support the construction of the performing arts center. The affirmative answer comes as no surprise.

Half of the $540,000 donation will come from New Era’s foundation; the rest will be split between Chris and Lindsey Koch and Koch’s mother, Valerie, who often passed Cradle Beach. The company’s U.S. manufacturing plant is located in Derby, a mile from Cradle Beach, as was the headquarters before moving to downtown Buffalo.

The Koch family understands how meaningful a couple of joyous weeks at the Lake Erie shore are to the campers. Their wonderful gift will only add to those positive, memorable experiences.

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