Ruritan auction to benefit child with Moyamoya disease

March 13, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Allyson Semler is surrounded by angels - her parents, grandparents and doctors. Now, members of the Maugansville Ruritan can be added to the list.

The Maugansville Ruritan Club is donating all of the proceeds from its Annual Community Auction to help pay for Allyson's mounting medical bills. The 11-month old daughter of Jamie Lynn Connor, 25, and Aaron Semler, 23, of Hagerstown, was diagnosed with Moyamoya disease, a rare, progressive disorder that causes obstruction of major blood vessels around the base of the brain.

As the disease progresses, it can cause brain damage, resulting in seizures and strokes. While there is no cure for the disease, surgery can restore blood flow to the brain. There are only two surgeons in the United States who have performed this specialized procedure - one in California and one in Boston.

Allyson is scheduled for surgery March 28 at Children's Hospital Boston. In addition to Allyson's medical expenses, there are travel, lodging and food expenses for her parents and grandparents, who will all be in Boston with her.


Connor and Semler, who plan to be married May 6, have worked tirelessly to gather information about the best treatment options for Allyson's disease. They have spoken with other families in the United States who have children with Moyamoya disease, which affects only one in 2 million people - mostly children and young adults - and is most commonly found in Asia and Japan.

The couple is grateful for the quick diagnosis by Dr. Stephen Kinsman at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore. The diagnosis allows them to treat the disease with medication to reduce the seizures Allyson has, which reduces the damage to her brain while she awaits surgery.

Support from the Early Intervention Program at Marshall Street School in the form of weekly physical therapy for Allyson also has been a blessing, Connor said.

The Annual Community Auction is Saturday, March 18, at 3 p.m. at the Ruritan Community Center on Maugans Avenue in Maugansville. The Ruritan Club is hoping to make $10,000 at the auction, and is looking for donations of items or gift certificates that can be sold the day of the auction. For more information, call 301-733-5854.

How to donate

To make a donation toward Allyson's medical expenses, checks can be made payable to Maugansville Ruritan Club, f.b.o. Allyson Semler. Donations may be mailed to Hagerstown Trust Co., P.O. Box 189, Hagerstown, MD 21741-9986 or dropped off at the bank's Maugans Avenue branch.

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