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New Franklin supports teenager through caring, fundraising

2/3/2011 - South Side Leader
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By Joyce Rainey Long

Megan Nicole Kasmar is shown above in an undated photo.
Megan Nicole Kasmar is shown above in an undated photo.
NEW FRANKLIN — The Manchester Local School District and New Franklin community have rallied around Megan Nicole Kasmar and her family while the 15-year-old waits for a lung transplant.

A sophomore, Megan is described as “relentless” by her friends at school. She battled cancer twice as a baby after being diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissues, according to Megan’s mother, Nadine Kasmar. Her treatment included six surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation.

She was hospitalized in March 2009 with pneumonia, and now a double lung transplant has become necessary due to the scarring on Megan’s lungs, according to her mother. She is now at Akron Children’s Hospital awaiting the lung transplant, which would take place at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Fundraisers have been held throughout the community for the Kasmar family, which also includes three sons.

Manchester High School students applaud after the talent show Jan. 28. Many of the students wore T-shirts that are printed with “MNK is relentless” in Megan Nicole Kasmar’s honor.
The band “Lake AEffect” plays during the talent show held at Manchester High School Jan. 28, which raised funds to help Megan Kasmar. The band won first place at the judged event.
Manchester High School Singers, led by teacher Bill Harper, sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” while wearing T-shirts to support Megan Nicole Kasmar.
Photos: Joyce Rainey Long
Some of the fundraisers for Megan have included: a jeans day at Nolley Elementary School; a hat and jeans day at Manchester Middle School; the sale of paper hearts with personal messages to Megan at Manchester High School; a donation from the Manchester High girls basketball team; the sale of pink stretch “Megan” bracelets; the sale of “MNK is relentless” T-shirts by Game Day Sportswear at 951 W. Nimisila Road; proceeds from haircuts at Tracy’s Hair Art, 956 W. Nimisila Road; and part of the proceeds from three afternoons of sales at McDonald’s, 3273 Manchester Road, according to Manchester Superintendent Sam Reynolds. Not all of the proceeds from the fundraisers have been tallied at this time.

“I’ve never seen such an outpouring of support,” said Sandy Jones, store manager of McDonald’s, about the fundraiser held Jan. 28-30. “It was a lot bigger than what we anticipated. So many people care.”

Meanwhile, at Manchester High, students held a talent show Jan. 28 where each student paid $1 to attend and also donated money, said English teacher Marcia White, who organized the show. More than $750 was collected, and a video of the show was made to share with Megan while she is in the hospital.

“Manchester is a community that always reaches out to others in need, and the students have learned this all of their lives,” said White. “They are willing to give to support each other. That’s just who they are.”

Reynolds agreed.

“Megan has earned the respect of the entire community through her relentless efforts to conquer cancer,” he said. “People have witnessed her perseverance in school and in her personal life.”

Fellow students and friends shared their reasons for supporting Megan.

“Megan is an inspiration because she’s impacted all of our lives,” said Shara Ross, a Manchester junior. “She is such a sweetheart and is always helping others and never complains.”

“Everybody knows Megan in this small community, and everyone loves her when they meet her,” added Denise Ross, Shara’s mother.

Manchester High Principal James France echoed those sentiments.

“She’s a tough young lady,” he said. “She carries around an oxygen tank that is almost bigger than she is. Megan is an inspiration to me because she keeps fighting.”

Megan has maintained her excellent grades during her illness, along with her positive attitude and strong faith, Reynolds added.

“Our empathy for her health issues, challenges and concerns for her have caused each person to try to provide some sort of assistance to her,” he said.

Fundraisers for the family are continuing and include an Italian buffet, “Stay Strong MNK,” set for March 13 from noon to 3 p.m. at Occasions Party Centre, 6800 Manchester Road. The cost is a minimum $15 donation and is free for children younger than 4. For dinner tickets, call 330- 607-6183 or 330-882-5113.

Themed baskets created through Camp Quality, a children’s family cancer charity, will be available for raffle at the buffet. Gift basket donations also are being accepted. Tickets for the basket raffles will be available at the event. For details, call 330-658-7015 or e-mail ohio@campqualityusa.com.

“The family would like to thank you for your continued support and prayers,” said Nadine Kasmar in written communications with the community.

Donations to the family also are being accepted at all three area locations of Scott Talbot Salonspa, including 4080 Fulton Drive in the Belden Village area, 1041 E. Turkeyfoot Lake Road in Green and 4345 Tuscarawas St. in Canton. Donations should be marked “Kasmar Family Fund.”  

Donations also can be made at any FirstMerit Bank branch location.

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