Cranberry event to 'HELP' kids with pediatric cancer
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For Lori Silvester of Cranberry, it was the face of little Rehanna Lydon that sparked the inspiration to combine a day of fun for pediatric cancer patients with a fundraiser benefiting medical research.
"It occurred to me as I was looking at her smiling face," Mrs. Silvester recalled of last year's event.
Rehanna, of Renfrew in Forward, who finished fifth grade at Seneca Valley School District, died Aug. 1 at the age of 11, five weeks after the third annual fundraiser at Fun Fore All Family Entertainment Center in Cranberry. The fundraiser has produced more than $20,000 for the national Alex's Lemonade Stand campaign to combat pediatric cancer, and this year, Mrs. Silvester hopes to raise $20,000.
The fourth event features something new, which Mrs. Silvester calls HELP '12, an acronym for HOPE, ENJOY, LAUGH, PLAY 2012.
The effort by Mrs. Silvester and her husband, Dave, and children, Kate, 12, and Harrison, 9, began four years ago, when the Silversters' friends in Maryland lost their 2 1/2-year-old son, Henry, to cancer.
But their encounter with childhood cancer had an even more personal dimension, as well. Mr. Silvester, now 43, had cancer when he was 18, and Kate became friends with Rehanna at school. She had been diagnosed in 2008 with rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of muscular cancer. After a year of remission, the cancer returned and claimed Rehanna's life. Her parents, Marcia and Shawn Lydon, are divorced.
Kate Silvester said she's inspired to "work even harder" this year because of the loss of Rehanna, who served as honorary chairman of last year's event. "I don't want any child to have to go through what Rehanna went through," Kate said.
The initial concept of a backyard lemonade stand in 2008 that raised $236 for medical research grants grew into a day full of food, rides and games. In fact, the stand is one of only 18 across the country designated as "grand" stands by the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, Mrs. Silvester said. The label is awarded by the organization for community and corporate involvement, as well as the stand's overall impact and fundraising success.
Mrs. Silvester sought business sponsorships so pediatric cancer patients can attend the festivities for free along with a friend this year. Fees paid by other patrons will go toward the fundraising effort.
To register pediatric cancer patients, call Mrs. Silvester at 724-831-1014. More information: www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/77022.
First Published June 14, 2012 5:52 am