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Rock, paper and scissors competition raises money for families with children who have cancer

January 29, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Jessica is 6 years old and her prognosis so far is good. Brandon is 10 and his is questionable. Timmy was 2 1/2 and he didn't make it.

Cancer rears its ugly head among children.

Holly Sweeney is Jessica's mom. On Saturday, she held another fundraiser for Timmy's Fund, this time hoping to raise $10,000 at a rock, paper and scissors competition at the Extreme Sportsplex in the Berkeley Plaza Shopping Center.

Timmy's Fund was started by Timmy Quigley's dad, Joe Quigley. The money it raises goes to West Virginia families who have a child with cancer.

The fund gives money to parents when their children are at West Virginia University Children's Hospital in Morgantown for extended stays while their children undergo treatment, Quigley said.

He said Timmy's Fund provides parents with cash, money for gas to drive to Morgantown, cafeteria coupons and money for hotel stays.

The charity raises money through annual balloon-release events in which patrons pay $5 to send a balloon into the air.

The first year, enough balloons were sent aloft to bring in $14,000, Quigley said. In 2009, he raised $43,000 and estimates the event in 2010 brought in more than $60,000.

"This year we hope to make $100,000," he said.

Holly said she knew immediately that something was seriously wrong with Jessica when her pediatrician called her aside after reviewing some blood tests.

"He had tears in his eyes. I asked if it was cancer and he said 'the blood work looks suspicious,'" she said.

Jessica Sweeney was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia on Aug. 21, 2009, "a week before she was to start kindergarten," Holly said.

She spent the next 2 1/2 weeks in Morgantown. After that, she went weekly for chemotherapy treatments for six months, then monthly after that.

"Jessica's still in treatment at Morgantown, but we expect a full recovery," Holly said.

Holly and her husband, Jason, have two other children, James Porter, or J.P., 3, and Sarah, 8.

When Timmy Quigley was 20 months old, he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor.

"They removed the tumor and things looked promising after he had a heavy round of chemo," his father said.

It was a one-shot thing, but it didn't work, he said.

"The cancer came back. Timmy spent his second birthday in the intensive-care unit," Joe Quigley said.

He died in 2004.

Quigley and his wife have a daughter, Ally, 10, and 2-year-old Joe, "who is a spitting image of Timmy," he said.

Sam and his son, Brandon, 10, were in line waiting to sign up for the rock, paper, scissors games. Sam asked that his last name not be used to protect his son's privacy.

Brandon, who was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, wore a face mask for protection.

"He was diagnosed on 10/10/10, on his 10th birthday," his father said.

Brandon, his parents' only child, has been in and out of Morgantown ever since the diagnosis.

"He's doing great, as long as he stays positive and we keep our eyes toward the Lord," Sam said.

Brandon's doctors give him a 60 percent chance of recovery.

Instead of a slap on the hand when paper covers rock, scissors cut paper or rock smashes scissors, winners of each round Saturday received a point to be accumulated toward a grand prize at the end of the day.

The top winner in the first class, ages 6 to 12, got a Nintendo game. Those in the 13-to-adult class won a 32-inch flat-screen television, Holly Sweeney said.

She promoted the games by putting out 17,000 fliers around the area.

Kids paid $5 to play and adults paid $10.

Holly holds other fundraisers for Timmy's Fund and is planning a balloon-release event for July.

Her program is "Jessica Rocks for Timmy's Fund," helping families who are dealing with childhood cancer. The website is http://jessicarocks.org.

The Timmy's Fund website is www.timmysfund.org.

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