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Breakfast benefits student's cancer battle

February 07, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

View a slideshow of the benefit for Katie Stains

WILLIAMSPORT -- An aggressive form of cancer has not stopped Williamsport High School senior Katarina "Katie" Stains from working toward completing the English credit she needs to graduate this year.

"She's determined to walk across the stage," Ryann Crawford, Stains' cheerleading coach, said Saturday at a pancake breakfast benefit held for Stains. "She's determined to come to Senior Night, and that's what I think is so strange about the whole situation is that she's so strong and so determined and (her will to live is) what's going to pull her through all of it."

And her community is backing her all the way.

The pancake breakfast, along with raffles and a bake sale held at the high school, attracted more than 1,700 people and raised about $13,000, organizers said.

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"Words can't even describe how appreciative that we all have been, and it's great to have the community come together and respond to such an event," Crawford said.

Jodie Warrenfeltz, pancake chairperson of the high school's athletic boosters organization, said the fundraiser easily exceeded expectations.

"When I first took it on (last month), I thought maybe 1,000 (people would turn out)," Warrenfeltz said before reporting 1,787 tickets were sold at $5 each.

About 180 people volunteered to help prepare and serve pancakes, sausage, milk, orange juice and coffee and hold raffle drawings for about 30 donated items, Warrenfeltz said.

"We've gotten stuff from as far away as New York ... it's been overwhelming," Warrenfeltz said.

Stains was diagnosed in December with Ewing's sarcoma, an aggressive cancer. She is receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and also will undergo radiation treatment, Crawford said.

"Katie's doing great, she just started a fourth round of chemo, she's in good spirits and she couldn't be more grateful," Crawford said as raffle drawings were being announced at the high school. "The (outpouring) from the community, from the school and not even just Williamsport, but Washington County in general, has just been amazing."

Crawford said she was told the breakfast was one of the largest events of it's kind held at the school.

"I stood back and I was watching the people come in and sit down and it's was like -- wow," Crawford said.

Crawford said her fundraising request at the high school athletic boosters meeting in January prompted a flurry of support.

"A lot of them didn't know what was going on with her," Crawford said. "I no sooner got it out of my mouth and all the plans were in the works. And it just snowballed. It was like an avalanche after that.

"And everybody jumped into help ... we didn't have to ask for anything. They came to us and said, 'I know how to do this, this and this and this, can I help you.'

"It's just been huge."

A four-year cheerleader, Stains is reading "Hamlet" and "The Canterbury Tales" to get the English credit.

"She's getting it done," Crawford said.

"It breaks your heart more than anything else ... she's still smiling and she calls me every day and tells me she loves me," Crawford said. "She even calls and says, 'I'm not going to make it to practice.'

"She's a great girl, and it's unfortunate that this has happened to such a wonderful cheerleader and student and family."

Stains' mother is an assistant cheerleading coach at the school.

Contributions may be directed to the Katarina Stains fund at the Washington County Teachers Federal Credit Union on Virginia Avenue.

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