Fundraiser tonight to benefit White Oak 7-year-old with leukemia

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Eating at one of 10 local Arby's restaurants from 5 to 7 tonight will help a young boy battling leukemia.

During that two-hour span, 15 percent of all proceeds will go to a fund for the family of 7-year-old Dyllan Botti of White Oak.

The participating Arby's restaurants are located in: New Kensington, Irwin, Mount Pleasant, Latrobe and Greensburg, Westmoreland County; Penn Hills, Plum and White Oak, Allegheny County; Leechburg, Armstrong County; and Uniontown, Fayette County.

Dyllan, a first-grader at the Francis McClure Primary School in the McKeesport Area School District, was diagnosed last year with pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Since then, his parents — Joelle and Andy Botti — have traveled between a hospital in Philadelphia and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where Dyllan has received chemotherapy, among other treatments for the cancer.

While the family has health insurance through Mr.Botti's job laying asphalt, travel expenses like gasoline, food and lodging have piled up.

To help defray expenses related to Dyllan's hospitalization, donation jars were placed at 32 Arby's locations beginning in April, raising more than $10,000. The drive ends March 31.

The idea for the fundraisers came from Tony Rothrauff, area supervisor for Pittsburgh Southeast Arby's. He learned of Dyllan through Breanna Stratemeier, Dyllan's aunt, who works at the Arby's in Irwin.

''I have three small kids, so it hit home for me. I wanted to start a fundraiser.

''So far, it has exceeded our expectations,'' he said of the $10,000 raised.

The plan is to add tonight's proceeds to the total, raising it, hopefully, to $20,000, Mr. Rothrauff said.

Ms. Stratemeier said Dyllan's family is thankful for all the support from friends and strangers, including participating in blood drives and bone marrow screenings.

She said she was grateful every time she watched a customer drop a few coins or dollars in the donation jar at her workplace.

''It makes me very happy to think there are so many kind people willing to help out my family,'' the Turtle Creek woman said.

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer:

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