Public Lights up Park in Effort to Help Child Fighting Cancer
PHILIPSBURG – Less than 11 hours after being conceived, a large crowd filled Philipsburg’s South Park with the goal of lighting it up as a donation effort. Donations were being taken and messages were being left for Emily Whitehead, a six-year-old currently in the hospital due to leukemia. People could donate money in order to receive a luminary bag that would be lit and placed along the walkways.
Rian Bender came up with the idea at 8:30 a.m., April 26. She had known Emily as the Whitehead family had lived three houses down from her. She was friends with the family. Emily is her daughter’s age.
“I felt so helpless,” said Bender.
She posted the idea on FaceBook in the morning. Within a half hour she began getting messages. This progressed enough that she began soliciting local businesses and had dropped off luminary bags at the Philipsburg Elementary School. The school called back while she was eating lunch asking for more bags to fill out. Word spread quickly.
“Literally from the time we posted on Facebook to a half-hour later we started getting messages,” said Bender.
Bender had been watching the weather all day. There were occurences of rain before and occasionally during the Light Up at the Park, but the event went on. The trail of bags growing with very minute. When asked, Bender did not know how long it would go on. Only that when it did finally come to an end all the bags would be given to the Whitehead family.
Steve Huber, president of the Hope Fire Company, stated that the Hope Fire Company would be having a fundraiser for Emily Whitehead as well. The fire company will be having a food drive near the Weis intersection. All proceeds will go to the Whitehead family. It will take place April 28, at 9 a.m.
(All Photos Steven McDole)