The Lehigh Valley Pediatric Cancer Foundation brought abundant sunshine to the families of cancer fighters on July 24 with their Christmas event at Pavilion No. 3 in Upper Macungie Township’s Grange Park.
“It’s just a really fun afternoon in the park for a lot of deserving families,” said Michelle Zenie, PCFLV executive director.
While PCFLV usually hosts a family celebration every summer, this is their first “Christmas in July” themed event.
“We’ll probably make it an annual event,” Zenie said.
Activities include games, art projects and performances by Mulan, Ariel and Minnie Mouse, plus some elves.
Every child battling cancer and their siblings took home Christmas gifts.
The families, who came from all over the world, also enjoyed pizza, pretzel bites and the event favorite, shaved ice.
“Caesar,” a therapy dog owned by Dan Serbia, of Alburtis, looked like a fluffy snowdrift and offered comfort to those attending the PCFLV Christmas event in July.
The 12-year-old White Magic Samoyed found great comfort when McCoy Rapa of Schnecksville and John Notchey of Bethlehem scratched his back.
Rapa was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Notchey with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma. Both responded well to treatment.
“They (PCFLV) have been very good to us,” said Notchey, a senior at Liberty High School.
Gregory Smith, who was diagnosed with germinoma brain cancer in 2016, and two of his siblings, Alyssa and Peter, were celebrating a family game with a game of bingo.
All three residents of Schnecksville got to pick their prizes, and Gregory chose a kazoo.
The Smiths are also cautiously celebrating four years without a sign of cancer.
The Latimer and Carter families drove from East Stroudsburg to visit AJ Latimer, who is on maintenance treatment for T-cell leukemia.
Jasmin Boyd traveled from Mount Pocono to volunteer. She has been battling leukemia for two and a half years.
The Stravinsky family brought Madeline, their leukemia fighter, and her brother Austin, from Green Lane, to participate in the PCFLV event.
The foundation has successfully transitioned to virtual programming for the families they serve during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The hardest thing for us was the fundraiser,” Zenie said, explaining that the virtual fundraisers were not as successful as previous in-person fundraisers.
The Executive Director expressed hope and optimism that, as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease, there will be more opportunities to find support for their organization through personal fundraisers.
PCFLV is a local nonprofit that provides financial, social, and emotional support and programming to local families with childhood cancer.
With offices at 2132 S. 12th St., Suite 401, Allentown, the foundation is located a short distance from Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, which provides pediatric oncology care.
For more information about the PCFLV, visit pcflv.org.
Lehigh Valley Executive Director Michelle Zenie’s Pediatric Cancer Foundation and volunteer Varun Pandian stand by the Reindeer Games tent. Pandian is a junior at Parkland High School and serves on the PCFLV teen board.
The four-legged snowdrift named “Caesar” loves to have his back scratched by McCoy Rapa left and John Notchey. If diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Rapa will attend St. Joseph the Worker School in Orefield in the fall. John Notchey, a senior at Liberty High School, is dealing with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma.
Whitehall volunteer Emily Turek shouts bingo numbers as cancer fighters and their siblings compete.
Smith family bingo winners keep their prizes up. From left are Collin, Gregory and Alyssa. The two younger residents of Schnecksville attend the Circle of Seasons Charter School in Fogelsville. Gregory, who was diagnosed with germinoma brain cancer in 2016, attends Parkland High School.
To the right, Cole Nass tries to land a ring on the reindeer antler hat his father Mike is wearing. The family lives in the College Hill area of Easton. Cole’s sister, Madelyn, is battling leukemia.
Isabelle Cincera mans the Kona Ice truck at the PCFLV event. The 2020 Parkland graduate will attend Northeastern University in Boston. Kona Ice is located in Fogelsville. PRESS PHOTOS BY ED COURRIER
The Stravinski family picks up gift bags at the summer-themed Christmas tree in Grange Park in Lehigh County. In front are Austin and his sister Madeline. Madeline has been diagnosed with leukemia, but is doing well. Behind them are their parents Josh and Susanne. The Stravinskys live in Green Lane.