Heat deals a major blow to St. Jude Hospital fundraiser

July 07, 2012|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Charles Southard, left, and other concession workers seek the shade of an awning during a break from activities Saturday afternoon at a fundraiser for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at Williamsport American Legion Post 202.
By Alicia Notarianni

“The heat nearly killed us,” Michael Kindsvatter said.

Death was the last thing Kindsvatter and his fiancee, Morgan Lady, wanted to encounter, even if it was the death of an event.

Lady was inspired to host a fundraiser to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital following a series of deaths of loved ones. Her grandmother, grandfather, an aunt and her best friend all died of cancer within a two-year span, she said.

“I wanted to do something in their memory, to help someone else not have to go through what they did,” Lady said.

Lady had considered having a fundraiser for various organizations, but the mother of three settled upon St. Jude to focus on children.

“I wanted to do this for children because they are the ones that would suffer the most when they are sick because they don’t understand,” she said.

Lady recalled attending pig feeds at the American Legion as a girl. She thought the land and its proximity to Interstate 81 would be “perfect.”

She and Kindsvatter arranged a Saturday and Sunday event including a showcase of bands from throughout the area, as well as 35 vendors, inflatables, pony rides and a petting zoo. They had set of goal to raise $10,000 through raffles, admission and donations, and organized attractions from morning until night.

But they couldn’t organize the heat. The sun burned down at temperatures around 100 degrees.

People came in the morning, Lady said. Then, sweating and sweltering, they headed home. Some bought wristbands with the intention of returning later to hear more bands when it was, hopefully, a little cooler. Many vendors packed up and left, but the bands played on.

By late afternoon, a member of the band Breakforth became sick on stage with symptoms of heatstroke and organizers called an ambulance. Activities were put on hold until early evening, when organizers would determine a plan of action.

Vendors that remained were scattered across the otherwise empty grounds, where band members sauntered around waiting for news.

Jody Besaw of Frostburg, Md., sat alone beneath a tent in the parking lot watching over sound equipment.

“This heat is killer,” he said.

Gina Majka, 9, and her sister, Taylor Majka, 10, of Baltimore were scheduled to play in a band called Rockin’ Bunnies with their father, who also plays with another band. The two had frequented the petting zoo throughout the day.

“I like the Billy goat,” Taylor said. “He’s funny because he has a goatee.”

Gina was partial to the baby cow, which nibbled at her shirt.

Bruce Logan was an event volunteer.

“Some of these bands came from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. We’re just hoping it will cool off some and people will come back later,” he said. “It’s really disappointing. It’s just that the heat got real bad out here.”

Uncertain about Saturday evening, he decided to set his sights on Sunday.

“We’ll come back tomorrow and give it another whirl,” he said.

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