Everything went into the red folder.
That’s where Tanisha Myers kept what she needed to help her classmate and friend. A letter for sponsors, promotional fliers, donations — they all ended up in the folder carried around by the 12-year-old from Snow Shoe.
She had to stay organized to help Dale Dyke.
Last month, Tanisha threw a benefit pool party for Dale, from Milesburg and also a 7th-grader, who has the rare condition of osteogenesis imperfecta, type III. It’s better known as brittle bone disease.
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Whatever the name, Dale has broken more than 150 bones. The latest, her femur, fractured when she was crawling around her living room — her typical way of getting around at home because she’s unable to stand and her motorized power chair is too big for her house.
But it’s tiring and, as she found out, dangerous.
“This is more likely to happen because she is getting bigger and her legs are longer which inhibits her scooting like she did when she was younger,” her mother, Robyn Dyke, wrote on Facebook.
Which led to Tanisha entering the picture.
She knew her friend from softball — Dale’s older sister plays — and from performing together in a school play, “James and the Giant Peach.” Tanisha was a glow worm; Dale was a ladybug.
One day, Tanisha saw that she could play another role.
Online, she saw the GoFundMe site Dale’s mother set up to accept donations for a special pediatric scooter board, akin to an auto mechanic’s wheeled creeper, but a lot fancier.
And more expensive: The scooter cost about $2,000, more than the Dyke family could afford when it wasn’t covered by their insurance.
Tanisha had an idea.
She was looking forward to a birthday party at the Mountain Top Area Pool in Snow Shoe. Maybe she could hold a swim party for Dale.
The thought didn’t come out of the blue.
Her grandmother, Betty Lou Dudish, organizes the Snow Shoe Fall Festival, and has raised money for a local veterans memorial. Her mother, Debrah Dudish, and aunt, Luanna Dudish, who lives just down the street, are involved with the local chapter of Helping Other People Excel Foundation, a nonprofit charity.
Plenty of times, as long as she didn’t have a softball practice or piano lesson, Tanisha sat through meetings, taking her own notes.
She knew all about fundraisers.
“She’s seen it done,” Luanna Dudish said. “But for her to decide to come up with the swimming part, it was so kidlike.”
Tanisha wasted no time putting her knowledge to use.
Encouraged by her family, she wrote her pitch for donations, making sure to add plenty of stickers for extra effect.
The pool readily donated two hours, waiving the $60 fee, but Tanisha needed raffle items, refreshments and other contributions.
With her aunt, she dropped into Mountaintop, Milesburg and Bellefonte businesses. It didn’t take long for her to drum up more support.
“All the businesses were really impressed,” Luanna Dudish said.
Tanisha was on a roll. She printed leaflets for the July 16 bash on fluorescent-colored paper.
She secured hot dogs, sloppy joes and drinks. She made thank you posters.
To arrange entertainment, she didn’t book a pricey DJ.
She reached out to a friend.
Riley Roth, a local girl and Nashville singer-songwriter, performs at the Snow Shoe Fall Festival. In her first music video, she had cast Tanisha for a part.
Roth did her own part for Dale, singing for about an hour at the July 16 party.
Others pitched in. A Mountaintop women’s club joined Betty Lou Dudish and Sue Myers, Tanisha’s paternal grandmother, in baking goodies for sale.
Daughenbaugh Funeral Home in Snow Shoe chipped in a donation — just one example of the widespread local support for Dale’s swim party.
“Snow Shoe is so good at raising money when someone needs it, really good at helping,” Luanna Dudish said.
But it took one girl clutching a red folder to draw about 60 guests at $5 per head, including the woman who won a cash prize but donated her windfall to the cause.
“I was surprised,” Tanisha’s mother said about the party thrown together in less than three weeks, “but Tanisha does have a big heart where she would do anything for anybody.”
“In a way I was surprised, but in a way, I wasn’t because she would step up and do what she needed to do for a friend.”
Tanisha even waited for Dale to shed her leg cast before scheduling the party so that the guest of honor could splash around.
At the end, they popped out of the pool and together counted the day’s initial take: $1,203. A final donation and $500 from the HOPE Foundation pushed the gift to more than $1,800 for the overjoyed Dyke family.
“I want to give a HUGE thank you to everyone coming out tonight to Dale’s fundraiser,” Robyn Dyke wrote on Facebook.
Tanisha didn’t want to talk about her accomplishment.
That’s fine; her actions speak for themselves — a shining example of altruism impressive from any adult, let alone a normally reserved 7th-grader.
“I am so proud of her,” her mother said, “especially how shy she can be, that she did it all herself.”