Monday, March 24, 2014

Weston Keeton

Often, I write stories for The Reporter about the efforts to show love and support for children fighting life-threatening diseases. Today, I found out the smiling Weston Keeton, who I wrote about a year ago, passed away yesterday. It's hard to imagine when interviewing these sick children, who are so full of life, that their days are fleeting and their lives plagued with brevity. Rest in peace Weston, your big, bright smile will always be remembered.

Weston Keeton last year.

What amazed me most about Weston is that he isn't even from Pennsylvania, he's from Tennessee, but so many people - from volunteers to doctors - at CHOP fell in love with him that they called him their own, as well. It's incredible how people can love others for no particular reason, affiliation or requirement. Perhaps that is the lesson Weston taught us.

“It’s so nice that so many people want to donate to Weston, pray for him and do whatever they can to help our family,” Julie Keeton told me last year. “Especially here in Philadelphia where we were complete strangers.”

Stay tuned for info about an Easter Egg hunt to help pay Weston's medical bills and funeral expenses at BucksMont Indoor Sports Center next weekend. The egg hunt will be held Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 2278 North Penn Road, Hatfield, Pa. at 1:30 for ages 2-4; 2 p.m. for ages 5-7; and 2:30 for ages 8-10. The event is free with a suggested donation of $5. For more info call 215-996-1170 ext. 101.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Shane's Story

This year Christmas time is a little extra special for one 5-year-old Lansdale boy.
Shane Popiny's dad Brett is a police officer. Often when Brett wears his uniform in the house, Shane will reach for the uniform's patch.
One day, Shane said, "Daddy, I want to a police officer just like you."
The obstacle is that Shane has Cerebral Palsy and is often confined to a wheel chair to assist his mobility.
To keep Shane's aspiration alive, the Popinys put together a YouTube video sharing Shane's story and asking police officers to send a Law Enforcement patch to him.
The video shows how the family lives their life and raises Shane.
"We wanted to show people that no matter what a child faces, the family can overcome the obstacle together," Brett said.
Shane received patches from officers all over the country, making him the happiest kid around.
Shane with patches he received from police officers around the country.
"People just attach themselves to his smile and an outpouring of support comes our way," Brett said.
After the networking and support group Law Enforcement Only (LEO) heard about Shane's story, combined with an injury Brett recently incurred while working as an officer, they decided to raise money for the Popiny family to "give them a Christmas."
Since Brett gets paid on a weekly basis, being out of work for recovery has made bill paying difficult and present buying impossible.
With tears in his eyes, Brett accepted the gift of a Christmas from LEO yesterday at Toys 'R Us in Montgomeryville.
Each of the Popiny's children, Dominic, 7, Shane, 5, and Gianna, 2, were able to spend $400 on any toy of their choosing, while the rest of the $3,100 raised for the family was given to Brett and his wife Colleen to pay their bills.
Shane in Toys 'R Us yesterday with his new flying "Cars" toy.
"It's a complete surprise and overwhelming that so many people came together to do this for us," Brett said. "This just goes to show that part of what holds us together is our larger family in the law enforcement community."
This is the second time Brett said he has been amazed at the support for his family. In February, the family won our "Sweetest Thing" contest, after readers decided they deserved a night out for all the do for their children.
To donate to the Popinys during this difficult time or show your support you can reach Colleen Popiny through e-mail at or P.O. Box 41, Hatboro, Pa. 1940.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Harleysville native battles rare Stage 4 cancer

It appears anywhere Michelle Chelius has lived, she's laid her roots.

Michelle, with daughter Sinead and son Callum.

Now as she fights a rare Stage 4 level cancer, many communities are uniting to help battle together.
Donate here.

Chelius grew up in Harleysville and attended Souderton High School. A teacher, along with her husband and North Wales native Dave Hannum, moved to Burlington County before most recently settling in Schuylkill County.

"She's one of those people it only takes five minutes to fall in love with," Deb Lynch said.

While living in Burlington County, Dave taught at the same school as Rob Lynch. Lynch and his wife Deb ran a side tie-dye business, from which Dave bought Michelle a dress.

Then at a party, Michelle approached Dave to thank him for the beautiful dress he made her and ever since the two couples have been close friends.

"We've been best friends for 10 years," Deb said. "A two hour drive doesn't mean anything."

For this reason, Deb organized an online fundraiser for her friend Michelle who is battling Stage 4 Thymic cancer, a cancer that rests behind the breast bone.

"She's lived her expiration date, I like to joke," Deb said. Michelle was originally diagnosed in January 2012 and continues to fight her cancer.

"I didn't have kids to die before they moved out of my house," Michelle often tells Deb. Michelle and Dave have a 9-year-old daughter and piano player named Sinead and an 11-year-old son and all-sports player named Callum.

Good news came today from an anonymous donor who promised to match any donation made to Michelle's Give Forward page by Monday. The current donations will go towards funding the $8,000 monthly treatment that Michelle now has to receive because of an allergic reaction to previous Chemotherapy.

"She is a part of a lovely family and deserves the opportunity to mother her children," Deb said.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Remembering Ayisha

Do you remember this beautiful North Penn graduate Ayisha Hussain, who was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that originated as a tumor in her spine, in 2010?
The girl who, though battling cancer, fundraised for Children's Hospital of Phialdelphia and the Ronald McDonald House?

Unfortunately, Hussain lost her battle to cancer yesterday and while her family celebrates her life at the North Penn Mosque today, we are reminded that we can show our love and faith in this girl's courageous fight by honoring her memory.

"Cancer took Ayisha's life this morning, but she kept fighting and kept smiling the whole way through," friend Alison Wallach wrote in an e-mail to us. "Being featured on the Lansdale Love blog meant so much to her to reach as many people as possible with her message of hope and awareness."

Hussain and her good friends, organized by Melissa Ronnan,  continue to work to raise money for the Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Purchase a T-shirt or make a donation in Ayisha's name to the cause that will help better facilitate the families who are spending time in the hospital at the sides of their sick children.

"I love to spend a lot of time at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia having sleepovers with my Ayisha. The first time I ever slept over we were wondering the halls of the oncology floor late at night," Ronnan wrote on the fundraising page.

"Every time I went there I saw what life was like living in the hospital. I was only there over night, these families are there for months. This made me want to step up and find a way to get donations to fill the Ronald McDonald Family Room's cabinets. This wish list provides donations from individually wrapped snacks to kitchen supplies. There is definitely a way we can make this happen, but with your help," Ronnan wrote.

This project is something Ayisha started with her friends - a simple cause of something she saw could benefit families like hers.
Ayisha this past May.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Veterans Community Network to host discussion in Souderton

JOIN US (Veterans Community Network, Peaceful Living, Franconia Mennonite Conferences) and other community groups to provide a listening and discussion forum for families to share concerns, problems and triumphs regarding the transition of their son, daughter, spouse or any loved one back from war. 

The forum will be held at “Generations” in Souderton. The partners welcome any and all individuals that want to learn, discuss and network with others that are concerned with effective communication and understanding of veterans.

 Focus:        Listening to family stories in a safe and caring forum to                      discuss the difficulties faced by veterans and their 
                   families returning from war to civilian life.
Place:         Generations of Indian Valley, (Senior Center)
                    259 North 2nd Street, Souderton, PA 18964
Date:          October 24, 2013
Time:        7 PM – 9 PM
Contact: D. Glen Miller/VCN

215.527.6203 for more information

Monday, October 21, 2013

Harleysville family hosts haunted house to combat daughter's rare disease

Scare for a Cure!!!
Saturday October 26, 2013
Starting atp.m.

Click to read The Reporter's story about Miea.

Join us on Saturday October 26, 2013 at 4 p.m.
726 Sumneytown Pike Harleysville PA 19438.

$20 donation per person (kids under 15 FREE) includes food, drinks, games, prizes, and fun for all ages including a kid friendly haunted house and a 15 and over haunted house starting after dark!

The Scare for a Cure fundraiser is inspired by 20 month-old Miea who suffers from Sturge Weber Syndrome. With the help of our community last year Miea was able to get treatment from the Kennedy Krieger Institute.  As a result of Miea’s time there researchers were able to determine the cause of SWS.  This information is HUGE! Researchers will be able to offer new treatments and have hope for a cure. All the funds raised through this event will go towards research at Kennedy Krieger Institute and help kids who suffer from SWS. 

Here is a letter from Miea's doctor who is leading SWS research:
Dear Families and Friends,

I hope this email finds you well. As you know, we recently revealed the cause of Sturge-Weber Syndrome (SWS): a genetic mutation that occurs before birth. These findings are truly a turning point for research on SWS because we can now move quickly toward targeted therapies, offering the promise of new treatments. Now, more than ever, we need to continue our fundraising efforts because the hope for a cure has never been closer.

We are making good progress in the lab towards setting a cell culture model for SWS-we expect to soon be testing the effects of novel treatments.  Discussions are underway as to how best to begin setting up pilot treatment trials based on our new knowledge of the basis of SWS.

I’d like to take a moment and share with you how another of our many supporters is helping to raise funds for our center and awareness of SWS. Please consider joining the family, friends and neighbors of Carla and Patrick Brown who will be hosting Scare for a Cure  on their 4 acres of farmland in Harleysville PA to benefit the Hunter Nelson Sturge-Weber Center at the Kennedy Krieger Center.  There will be 2 Haunted houses (one for kids and one for older teens and adults), food, drinks and Halloween games, a DJ, fireworks and a bonfire with fun to be had by all!  They still need volunteers to help out so if you can help or want to support this effort please contact Carla at .  Together we can make a difference and discover a better future for all with SWS.
The funds raised by this event will directly support the development of new treatments for SWS. For more information, please check out their Facebook event page at:

As Director of the Hunter Nelson Sturge-Weber Center at Kennedy Krieger, and lead investigator for several ongoing SWS clinical and translational studies here, I would greatly appreciate your support of this initiative.

Thank you for your time,

Dr. Anne Comi

Anne M. Comi MD
Associate Professor
Neurology and Pediatrics
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Director, Hunter Nelson Sturge-Weber Center

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Motorcycle Rodeo for Vietnam Vets

The Souderton Legion never sleeps when it comes to fundraising and rallying to support veterans. This coming Saturday (10/19) they will host a Motorcycle  Rodeo for the Vietnam Veterans Association.

To ride your motorcycle and participate in the obstacle course you'll need to sign up at the Legion (353 North Main St., Souderton) in the morning from 9 a.m. to noon. For $10 spectators can join in the fun - food and beer included - beginning at 2 p.m.

For more details about the Legions activities click here.