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Community rallies around BEA graduate

by on March 19, 2015 10:00 AM

HOWARD — Talk about a community coming together.

The Centre Region has done it once again, this time uniting to help Brandi Weaver-Gates, who was diagnosed in March of 2013 with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Since being diagnosed, she has undergone a series of medical treatments. Next up for her is a series of chemotherapy treatments at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

With that in mind, Brandi's friends and family are holding a “Bingo for Brandi” event beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 10 at the Yearick Center, 341 Walnut St. in Howard.

Her friend, Kaitlyn Weaver, is one of the organizers of the event.

“Brandi is just a sweet girl and a good friend of our family,” Weaver explained. “She's doing OK. She started treatments last week and went to Baltimore for the first time. She's having a positive attitude, as always. She's trying so hard not to let it affect her.”

Brandi, 23, is a graduate of Bald Eagle Area High School. The chemotherapy is the latest in a series of challenges she's faced throughout her life.

When she was just 2, she was burned by boiling water over 32 percent of her lower body. She endured 11 months of healing treatments and intense physical therapy. Throughout the next 13 years of her life, she had to perform special exercises and take on a series of procedures to keep her scar tissue soft and pliable so her skin would stretch as she grew.

To this day, Brandi has to go through several processes to keep the scars flexible for better mobility.

Needless to say, she's faced her share of hurdles.

Still, she hasn't let those slow her down. She coaches cheerleading, volunteers at her church and even sings in a choir.

Now, it's time, Weaver said, for the community to give back.

“I know how much she loves giving to everyone else and giving to the community. That made me want to give to her for once. She's so young, I can relate to her, I guess,” Weaver said.

The “Bingo for Brandi” event will feature games, food, a silent auction and a 50/50. Organizers are still looking for businesses to sponsor bingo games. There's also a need for silent auction items.

According to Weaver, there is no set goal as to how much they hope the “Bingo for Brandi” will raise.

“We don't have an exact number. We're hoping to sell about 250 to 300 tickets,” Weaver said.

Tickets are $20 each.

But it's about more than a bingo, Weaver said.

“We've gotten so many donations, it's been amazing. And we've gotten a lot of people who want to donate straight to Brandi,” she said.

According to Weaver, Brandi has never once complained or asked “why me?” Instead, she continues to battle and continues to fight. A visit to the Bingo for Brandi Facebook page reveals a young woman smiling in just about every photo.

“That's just Brandi,” Weaver said. “She's so much fun. She loves being adventurous. Whenever we go four-wheeling, she loves riding through the giant mud puddles, things like that. She's awesome. She truly lives for the moment.”

For more information about “Bingo for Brandi,” check out the Facebook page: Brandi's Bingo Fundraiser.

 

IF YOU GO

What: “Bingo for Brandi”

When: Friday, April 10

Where: Yearick Center, 341 Walnut St., Howard

More info: Call Hannah at (814) 571-5088 or email Debbie at dmw118305@gmail.com.



Chris Morelli is the managing editor of The Centre County Gazette.
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