Advertisement

Williamsport motorcycle dealer hosts ride for girl with brain cancer

June 28, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

WILLIAMSPORT -- Sporting white, pink and sparkling gold Hannah Montana sneakers, a left leg brace and an orange do-rag, 8-year-old Brittany Weese strode up to the side car of a Harley-Davidson Road Glide on Saturday and hopped in, claiming her title as grand marshal of Brittany's Ride.

"I think it's going to be fun," Brittany said. "I get to ride on a motorcycle I haven't been on. I'm excited."

As the Road Glide began to roll, Brittany let out a whoop and holler while onlookers applauded.

The event at Harley-Davidson and Buell of Williamsport was a warranted thrill for Brittany, considering the trials she has faced over the past two years.

It was May 31, 2006, when Brittany, who was being treated at the time for "lazy eye," suffered unbearable eye pain.

Advertisement

Brittany's pain became so intense that her mother took her to the emergency room at Washington County Hospital. Her mother, Kendra Weese, thought perhaps her daughter was suffering from a migraine. Then, she learned it was something much more serious.

Brittany was hemorrhaging, bleeding in her brain. She traveled by helicopter to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, where doctors discovered a tumor along with the bleeding that had created a mass about the size of an orange.

On June 1, 2006, Brittany was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Following surgery, Brittany had total paralysis on her left side.

"We showed her her hand and she said, 'That's not mine,'" said Brittany's father, Mike Weese.

Brittany spent the summer at Kennedy Krieger Institute for intense physical therapy and rehabilitation.

"She started off in a wheelchair with head support," Mike Weese said. "Then, she went to walking with a quad cane, then a single pole cane, then walking with a brace only."

In February 2007, Brittany had a second surgery, during which doctors were able to remove most, but not all, of the tumor. Last September, she started chemotherapy treatments, which she continues to receive.

Brittany no longer gets physical therapy, however, due to changes in her state-funded medical coverage. While her father provides insurance, the cost of the co-payments is too steep for the family to afford.

Harley-Davidson and Buell teamed up with several volunteer groups Saturday as a show of support for Brittany and her family. In addition to the ride, the event included door prizes, raffles, live music and lunch.

Proceeds from registration fees, around $600, were donated to the American Cancer Society, while raffle proceeds went to Brittany's family to offset medical expenses and travel.

Robin Brown, an employee of Harley-Davidson and Buell, organized the event. Brown said Brittany's father called the shop one day last fall looking for do-rags. A group of motorcyclists had passed them out at the Ronald McDonald House where Brittany had stayed, but hers had grown old and faded.

Still experiencing hair loss, Brittany wanted a new one to wear for her Lincolnshire Elementary School picture. She liked her do-rag better than hats, her father said. Brown said the Harley shop suited Brittany with a do-rag and a sweater and decided to organize a ride

"We've kind of been taken with her ever since," Brown said.

Harley-Davidson and Buell of Williamsport plans to make Brittany's Ride an annual event.

"Next year, we'll do it again and support someone else, but it will always be called Brittany's Ride," Brown said.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|