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Run-DMC's Darryl McDaniels aims to change lives of foster kids with Camp Felix, says his own adoption inspired his mission

Peter Sblendorio, New York Daily News on

Published in Entertainment News

NEW YORK — Nothing tricky about Run-DMC rapper Darryl McDaniels’ passion for transforming the lives of foster children.

For nearly two decades, the pioneering rapper from Queens has made it his mission to inspire, educate and entertain New York City kids in the foster care system through his nonprofit The Felix Organization, which hosts an annual summer camp devoted to giving kids formative experiences.

“Some of them never get to leave the neighborhood. Some of them never get to leave the block. What Camp Felix does is this: It shows the kids the beauty of the world that they live in,” McDaniels, 58, who uses the stage name DMC, told the Daily News on Wednesday ahead of a talent show for the camp.

“They get to see nature. They get to see trees. All the stuff they see in cartoons and in movies and on TV, they get to experience for themselves. ... But most importantly, what it does is put them in a community of others just like them so that they can realize they’re not alone.”

The organization’s flagship Camp Felix returned this month after not happening the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously held in New York's Putnam County, the camp moved this year to a new location in Sandyston, New Jersey, that offers experiences like kayaking and fishing.

The initiative is deeply personal for McDaniels, who was 35 when he learned he was adopted and had gone through the foster-care system.

 

“When I received that revelation, I felt like people in general do when they go through traumatic situations, but then I really related to the adopted and foster kids,” McDaniels recalled.

“I felt all alone. Why did my mother and father give me up? Did they like me? What’s wrong with me? It was all these why, why, why, why, why, whys? I got very depressed. I got suicidal. The revelation of my blessing was a very traumatic event.”

The rapper’s outlook changed after a friend introduced him to Hollywood casting director Sheila Jaffe, who was also adopted.

Their friendship showed McDaniels that he wasn’t alone in his experience, and the duo co-founded The Felix Organization in 2006 to share that same message with children.

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