Beating cancer, by design Warwick grad creates logo for Mini-THON

By on May 15, 2013

By:

TIFFANY WOODALL Record Express Staff

, Staff Writer

Summer is quickly approaching, and for 21-year-old Katelyn Martin, of Lititz, that means traveling with dad, Jeff, an eighth grade social studies teacher at Warwick Middle School.

"When I run around on my little adventures, she’s always my sidekick," said Jeff of Katelyn. "We do have a lot of fun together."

Father-daughter trips haven’t always been enjoyable, though. Some summers ago, trips consisted of 8-hour stints or overnight stays at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital for Katelyn’s cancer treatments.

At seven years old, Katelyn developed problems associated with her balance and depth perception. An MRI revealed a tumor attached to Katelyn’s brain stem, and she was immediately referred to a neurosurgeon at Hershey who gave her a 60 percent chance of surviving the surgery to remove the golf ball-sized tumor, called a medulloblastoma.

Doctors were successful in eliminating Katelyn’s tumor, but her recovery was far from over. Jeff and his wife, Susan, watched their daughter undergo six weeks of radiation and a year and a half of chemotherapy.

"My wife deserves much credit as her strength held us all together," said Jeff.

With the help of the Four Diamonds Fund, the couple could focus on Katelyn’s health.

"I never really knew what (the Four Diamonds Fund) was doing, what they were paying for," said Jeff. "They’re like a silent charity that just takes care of it."

Although cancer-free for over 12 years now, Katelyn suffers from mild cognitive impairment and mild hearing loss, which requires the use of hearing aids. Her IQ dropped 30 points just a year after finishing treatment, said Jeff.

"As negative as that whole experience was, it saved her life," said Jeff. "That’s sort of how we have to try to look at it."

One thing unaffected by Katelyn’s treatment is her artistic talent. She passed the time in waiting rooms by drawing, and now she illustrates greeting cards for her business, Kards by Kay.

"She always wanted to be an artist, and now she kind of is," said Jeff. She’s sold 150 cards to date, either at craft shows or online at kardsbykay@blogspot.com.

She recently designed the logo for the upcoming Warwick High School Mini-THON, to be held from May 17 at 7 p.m. to May 18 at 5 a.m. at the Lititz Rec Center. Tori Dagen, a senior at WHS and member of UNITE, the student group organizing the event, invited Katelyn to create the logo after visiting her blog.

Dagen, along with seniors Brooke Bunton, Kelly Espenshade, Tiffany Federer, Kassidy Garland, Hannah Sterner and Megan Wood, began planning the Mini-THON last summer. They attended a Mini-THON conference in Hershey as well as the Penn State Dance Marathon, where they met Charles Millard, founder of the Four Diamonds Fund.

"I’m incredibly proud of these young people," said Carolyn Hoy, faculty advisor of UNITE club along with Christina Wilson. "They have used their skills in something larger than themselves and planned an incredible evening."

The Mini-THON will kick off Friday evening with a tailgate from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Rec Center parking lot. The tailgate is open to the public and will feature food – including walking tacos, Tropical Smoothies and popcorn – testimonials by Four Diamonds families, performances by the WHS pep band and local band Let It Ride and a bouncy castle for children. After a 9 p.m. candle lighting ceremony, students will head into the Rec Center to enjoy an all-night celebration leading up to a sunrise reveal of the fundraising total.

"There are about 35 really dedicated students in UNITE who have supported this event and raised $2,500 already," said Hoy. "We hope to double that by Mini-THON night. Since this is our first year doing a big event, I will be proud of any amount of money raised."

Students are required to raise $30 to participate at the Mini-THON and can bring their donation to the door if they haven’t signed up beforehand; students will receive one raffle ticket for each $10 raised.

The all-nighter will include a photo booth, partially donated by PhotOle Photo company; midnight pizza; a performance by local band The Districts; a soccer tournament; a giant Twister game; Plinko; a Mr. Four Diamonds pageant; and rave hour. All night long students will have the chance to win additional raffle tickets for the many door prizes that have been donated by local businesses, including two iPad Mini tablets.

Clubs at WHS and their faculty advisors that are sponsoring events include the Tri-M Music Honor Society, Mrs. Ahlers; Spanish and German Honor Societies, Mrs. Rivera and Mr. Hoffman; National Honor Society, Mrs. Lefever; National Art Honor Society, Ms. Hohenadel; and Student Council, Mrs. Diem.

Donations may be made by visiting the Warwick Mini-THON Donor Drive page at tinyurl.com/coysegx and choosing a student to support, or by coming to the tailgate. Check Facebook at facebook.com/WHSMiniTHONMay17-182013 or follow @WarwickMiniTHON on Twitter for event updates.

More MINI-THON, page A7