Kids’ Network raises $800,000 here

TIPTON – Cindy Olsen knows first hand the importance of the care provided at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

“They saved my life and my son’s life,” said the State College woman whose son, Tyler, 13, is one of the 2014 Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger Miracle Kids.

“I had preclampsia and was real sick. They put me on IVs and saved him. I had an emergency C-section. We wouldn’t be here if not for them,” she said.

The Olsens were among those participating in the 2014 Children’s Miracle Network Telethon held over the weekend at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park.

“I like the rides and the food. I like the tilt-a-whirl. It is fun, and it spins,” said Tyler, a seventh-grade student at Mount Nittany Middle School, who was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate.

“He had five surgeries before he was a year old. He is doing real well,” Cindy Olsen said.

Geisinger also holds a special place in the hearts of the Foytack family of State College.

“Geisinger is fantastic. They are very professional,” said Annie Foytack, whose son, Caleb, 5, a 2010 Miracle Kid, was born at 28 weeks and developed a bowel disease called necrotizing enterocolitis.

“The doctors are amazing and make families feel extremely comfortable. They make you feel like family. They are also on the cutting edge of technology,” Foytack said.

“He is doing fantastic,” she said of her son. “He plays sports like soccer, swimming and tennis. He will start kindergarten this fall.”

Michele Reese of Port Matilda, whose son, Derrick, was also a 2010 Miracle Kid, is pleased with the care given at Geisinger.

“They have a great support system of doctors and nurses. They have been a big help to us. He has been five years cancer-free at the end of April,” said Reese, whose son, now 22, was 16 when diagnosed with osteocarinoma, a bone cancer.

DelGrosso’s Amusement Park was pleased to be the host site for the local telethon, aired on WTAJ-TV.

“It is an honor to be a host site. We are fortunate to have such a great hospital nearby. Anything we can do to help, we try to do. It is rewarding,” spokeswoman Amy Mearkle said.

“We are a family company. We are all about healthy families, healthy children and fun,” she said.

Geisinger officials said it was a fantastic weekend.

“We couldn’t ask for better weather, and our volunteers and Miracle Kid families had a great time at the park,” said Mike McMullen, corporate communications specialist for Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger.

“Our record-breaking total of more than $800,000 in the Altoona area is fantastic. This money will be used to provide equipment, programs and services for kids from our area treated at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital and our pediatric entities throughout the region, including Geisinger Gray’s Woods and our clinic in Altoona.”

The annual fundraiser netted $2,781,829 for Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital pediatric services.

The Wilkes-Barre broadcast, airing on WYOU, collected $1,772,379 from corporate sponsors, community and employee groups and phone-in pledges. The Johnstown-Altoona broadcast on WTAJ netted a total of $822,350, while the Binghamton, N.Y., broadcast on WBNG tallied $187,100.

Donations stay in the region to help sick and injured children through programs, services and medical equipment.