Summer camp inspires student’s nonprofit startup

Ethan Dowie (second from left) has developed a nonprofit after his experiences at Sunrise Day Camp.

By Jessica Hergert

Last summer, junior entrepreneurial studies major Ethan Dowie had the opportunity to work at Sunrise Day Camp in Pearl River, New York, and it led him to create something extraordinary for children dealing with unthinkable illnesses.

Opened in 2006, the multiple locations of Sunrise Day Camp aim to help children diagnosed with cancer by offering a full-summer camp program to them and their siblings.

Dowie, who developed close friendships with the “inspiring” children at the camp, knew that he needed to give back to the Sunrise community.

As a jumper for the Rider track and field team, Dowie was busy balancing academics and Division I athletics, but the idea to start a nonprofit organization sparked in his mind.

That idea began to take shape when he applied it to his classes.

“Ethan was taking my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class,” said Lee Zane, the program director for entrepreneurial studies. “He was learning to evaluate business concepts. Students were instructed in ways to develop creative business concepts. He came up with a track-based concept that his team was researching.”

This concept eventually developed into Dowie Corp., a nonprofit organization that “holds sporting events to raise money for children with cancer,” according to its website.

“It’s very different from the usual baseball, basketball, softball,” Dowie said. “I feel like the important thing is just trying to be creative and not doing what other people are doing.”

Dowie hopes the combination of participant donations and business sponsorships will raise a good amount of money for Sunrise Day Camp, while also funding exciting events for participants.

Despite his passion for the project, starting the organization did not come easily, he said.

“A lot of it was studying up on nonprofits and looking at the rules,” he said, mentioning he had to work closely with lawyers to ensure he did not miss anything.

“You have to look at every little detail, because for nonprofit, they want to make sure the money is going to the cause.”

Dowie said that without the help of professors like Zane, Rider’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Lisa Teach and Associate Dean for the College of Business Administration’s Graduate Programs Ron Cook, his idea would not have become a reality.

“Honestly, I can’t even say how much they helped me. It is impossible to describe,” Dowie said. “After a couple months, I was really able to lay the foundation and start doing what I wanted to do.”

Zane, who provided insight, feedback and advice throughout the startup, said it is important to note that although there was some external guidance, Dowie was responsible for the work.

“We asked, prodded and suggested, but Ethan thought long and hard and did the work,” Zane said. “Ethan was not afraid to ask lots of questions, work and re-work his plans as the organization and event came into focus.”

On June 23, Dowie Corp. will host its kickoff fundraiser, a track meet at Dowie’s alma mater Pearl River High School, featuring 11 different events.

Dowie is getting excited as he makes the final preparations, including a potential celebrity guest appearance.

Dowie highlighted that alongside the spectacle of track events, there will be “a bunch of raffles” from business donations. He said the New York Giants even confirmed they will be providing a prize.

Both Dowie and Zane agree that this experience has influenced Dowie greatly.

“[Dowie] is now more focused in class, getting better grades, and appears to have a very bright future,” Zane said. “I believe he has found his passion and his voice.”

Dowie said the mission of the nonprofit is to help as many people affected by cancer as possible.

“Of course we are helping the kids, but it also helps the parents and the siblings because what is making them happier is making everyone else in their lives happier. I think Dowie Corp. proves that the more good you do, the more good that will come to you.”

If you’re interesting in signing up for the first annual Dowie Corp. track meet, go to, or email Ethan Dowie at to learn more. 


Published in the 3/21/18 edition.

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