HONESDALE – Second grade Stourbridge Primary students were able to give back in a big way to an organization that helps children with life threatening medical conditions.
Tammy Rickard's class presented the Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia Chapter Scranton Regional Office with a check for $461.61 Friday afternoon.
Rickard said on the 100th day of school there was a school-wide effort to bring in 100 cents for random acts of kindness. In the end they raised over $400 and are continuing to bring money in.
The donation was made in honor of Dru Watson, a fifth grader at Lakeside Elementary who has Marfan syndrome.
His sister, Emily, is in Rickard's class.
According to the Marfan Foundation, Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue, which holds all the body’s cells, organs and tissue together.
It also plays an important role in helping the body grow and develop properly.
Marfan syndrome is caused by a defect in genes that make the protein fibrillin-1, which helps make up the connective tissue along with other proteins.
Two weeks ago, Dru had a spinal fusion at the Shriner's Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. He also had two eye surgeries.
“It hurt in the beginning but it's getting better,” Dru said about the surgery.
He was in the hospital for about a week and is already walking again.
Dru's parents, Jenn and Bill, said he has an enlarged valve in his heart and also has trouble with his feet.
Bill said it's affecting Dru's entire body and said that he has to see a cardiologist and eye doctor every six months.
Jenn added depending on how the disease progresses Dru may need more surgeries.
“We want to thank everyone for the support and prayers,” she said. “They've been so good to us.
“It's an amazing community.”
The Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia Chapter serves 57 counties within both states and has been in operation for 33 years.
The Make-A-Wish Scranton Regional Office operates with 11 counties including Wayne. They help around 70 children a year.
In Wayne County around eight are helped a year by the foundation.
This year, Dru's wish was granted and he'll be heading to Disney World. He said he's really looking forward to the Star Wars attractions.
“Make-A-Wish gave him something to look forward to,” stated Jenn. “They'e helping him a lot.
“He talks about it every day.”
Maggie O'Brien, regional manager for the Make-A-Wish Scranton Regional Office, said the foundation is always looking for referrals for wishes.
“Any child with a life threatening medical condition should be referred,” she said.
O'Brien added they don't use the word terminal because they “believe in hope.”
“Around 82 percent of them defeat their illness and go on to live in their adult lives,” she explained.
O'Brien added many children are eligible but they don't know it.
“We hope to find children that we can help,” she said.
When Dru goes to Disney World he'll be taking his family with him.
“We like to give all of the family [members] the hope and joy the deserve,” O'Brien said.
“We hope it's a chance they don't have to worry and just enjoy something as a family. It's a vacation away from that worry.”
She added providing families with hope, strength and joy is part of the mission of Make-A-Wish.
For more information about the Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia Chapter visit http://greaterpawv.wish.org/.
For more information on Marfan syndrome visit http://www.marfan.org/.