Jerry King couldn’t help his two uncles much.
Both died from leukemia in York County, far from the Milesburg resident. But when he learned of a case closer to home, it was a different story.
King has organized a benefit dance for Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Milesburg American Legion post picnic grounds. He’s trying to raise money for the 21-year-old Bellefonte woman as she undergoes chemotherapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia — a missed opportunity with his uncles.
“I wasn’t able to do a lot for them, so I decided to do this fundraiser for her,” King said.
Weaver-Gates is not a complete stranger to him. His son graduated from Bald Eagle Area High School with her three years ago. She and his 18-year-old daughter, a BEA student, have friends in common.
According to Weaver-Gates, a bone marrow biopsy recently delivered good news. She’s down to 5 percent cancer cells, which means the chemotherapy could be drawing her close to be curing.
But meanwhile, her bills have been mounting. While undergoing treatment, Weaver-Gates had to set aside three jobs assisting local special needs adults, helping coach young cheerleaders and working as a restaurant server.
For the past six weeks, King and others have been planning the dance, billed as “Brandi’s Benefit Bash.” In addition to a DJ and possibly a live rock and roll band, the event will include a spread of chicken corn soup, hot dogs, barbecue, sauerkraut, baked beans, cookies and other refreshments. For those of legal drinking age, the 18-and-over event will be BYOB.
Admission will be $10, with donations requested for the food. Inclement weather would move the dance to the Milesburg Community Center.
Donations for the event or for Weaver-Gates also can be given at the Bellefonte branch of PNC Bank at 801 E. Bishop St. For more information, call King at 280-8926 or LeeAnn Newman at 883-5680.
King said he doesn’t have a monetary goal for the event. Anything collected, he said, will go toward helping Weaver-Gates pay her rent and other living expenses.
“If I can raise a dollar for her, I’ve done something,” he said.
According to King, Weaver-Gates plans to attend the dance. He said he admires her courage and thinks she’ll prevail.
“I’m really hanging with her, you know,” he said. “I’m hoping what we’re doing will help her, no matter what.”
Chris Rosenblum writes a weekly column about news in the Upper and Lower Bald Eagle valleys. If you have news to share, email email@example.com or call 231-4620.