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Every three minutes, a child in the world is diagnosed with some form of cancer. On Saturday, March 8, the St. Baldricks Foundation head shaving event will help support the effort of finding a cure.
The volunteer-driven charity, St. Baldrick’s, started promoting head shaving events in 2000. Contributors solicit donations from community members, then get their heads shaved to promote cancer awareness and support research.
Ellwood City Fire Chief Rick Meyers and his wife Shannon have spearheaded the event since 2010, and helped raise over $50,000 in the Ellwood City area.
“It was started by a family who lost a child to cancer,” Rick Meyers said of St. Baldrick’s. “The program gives the money out in grants for cancer research. Ours was the first in the area when we started, and the community has shown great support. We’ve had over 100 people each year…men, women and children…get their heads shaved.”
On Nov. 17, 2007, the Meyers’ 5-month-old son Gavin was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma. Though it is the most common cancer in infants and toddlers, neuroblastoma is rare in that only about 700 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. The disease involves dividing cells (neuroblasts) that are supposed to turn into neurons, but end up as cancer cells that spread rapidly.
The couple spent most of the next several months at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh with Gavin as he underwent procedures such as blood and platelet transfusions, and chemotherapy. During this time, communities in Ellwood City and its surrounding areas banded together and held fundraising events to help cover the Meyers’ medical expenses.
“The community really helped us out,” Rick Meyers added.
From blood drives at Seneca Valley High School to pasta dinners held at local fire departments, the support came from from all over Western Pennsylvania. In fact, Baby Gavin received an extra special visit from a group of local celebrities as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, and Petr Sykora stopped by to meet him as part of the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer campaign. The Meyers, who are avid Pittsburgh Penguins fans, certainly appreciated the gesture of kindness.
“He got here in record time,” Shannon Meyers said of her husband, who made the trip from Ellwood City to Pittsburgh when he found out the players were visiting. “They were genuinely very nice, and did not seem rushed. I took a picture of them with Gavin, and I kept thinking it would be good for him to have when he gets older.”
Sadly, on June 27, 2008, Gavin succumbed to the cancer. Though he never got to grow up and see the picture, the image of him with the players remains a mainstay in Rick’s office and a driving force in the St. Baldrick’s event.
“They just came in and took our minds off of things,” Rick Meyers said. “With everything that was going on, it was nice.”
The Meyers family grew into “better, more understanding people” during Gavin’s bout with neuroblastoma. Now, along with fellow community members including Heather Frederick and Josh Coulter, they hold the St. Baldrick’s event in order to help other children.
“To me it’s an event to promote childhood cancer research,” Shannon Meyers said. “It’s a good cause, and the money goes directly to Pittsburgh hospitals where our doctors were for Gavin. Now, we’re trying to help other kids.”
The couple typically just asks the community for support, but they took a different approach in getting fellow firefighters involved with the cause. This year, Rick Meyers challenged some local fire departments to get their heads shaved by forming a contest.
“A whole group of guys from our department get it done,” Rick Meyers explained. “I also challenged other county fire departments to do the same. Whoever gets the most firefighters in to get to their heads shaved gets a traveling trophy.”
Along with the contest, there will be a Chinese auction, a 50/50 raffle, and refreshments. Even the Meyers’ daughter, Madison, will get involved by setting up a lemonade stand.
The event will take place at the Wayne Township Fire Department from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To sign up, please visit https://www.stbaldricks.org/register/shavee
While shavees can sign up at the event, coordinators encourage them to do so online beforehand because the number of sign-ups determines the amount of materials that the St. Baldrick’s Foundation donates.
The Meyers family also thanks all of the businesses that donated to the effort.
Do you believe in magic? You just might after watching one of T.J. Hill’s performances.
In September, Hill will appear on a national stage as he was booked to perform on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The 2000 Shenango High School graduate, who has several family members living within the Ellwood City borough limits, spends most of his nights dazzling audiences around the Pittsburgh area in places such as Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Rivertown Brewery. Hill is the official magician for the Pittsburgh Penguins during family events and Christmas parties. Also, he has put on shows for the Black-Eyed Peas, Christina Aguilera, Tom Petty, Robin Williams, and yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 2009 Pittsburgh Magician of the Year’s interest in magic began as a 10-year-old at New Dimension Comics, where he learned his first tricks.
“Back then it was their only location. I remember they had a couple little magic tricks there and I started to pick them up,” Hill said. “The guy in there told me that if I was interested in magic that there were places online. This is when the internet was in its primal stage, but I remember going online and finding a place called The Cuckoo’s Nest in Pittsburgh. It was the only magic shop within 200-300 miles, so I asked my parents to drive me there.”
After a few trips to the south side of Pittsburgh, Hill took in a show at Pine Valley Bible Camp that turned his newfound interest into a passion. Following the show, while other children went home, he swarmed the stage and began investigating the magician’s props.
“I went up and started snooping around all his props and wondering how everything was done,” Hill explained. “I told him everything was so cool. He showed me some close-ups, like slight-of-hand magic. After that, at least once a month I would have my parents drive me down to the magic shop.
While at the Cuckoo’s Nest, Hill learned a new trick then spent the entire week practicing until it was perfected. The first trick he learned was called Nickels to Dimes, which involved turning four nickels into four dimes.
“I think my parents hated me because I did it so much,” Hill added about the trick. “I just practiced over and over and over again.”
Throughout high school, Hill was known as the “magic kid,” and he participated in several talent shows. However, his largest progression came when he joined a performance group.
“I really got into it when I joined musical theater. I was always on stage singing, dancing, [and] acting. And that really kind of brought something out in me. I wanted to perform more, and that made me realize that I feel comfortable on stage and it’s something I can do,” Hill said of his musical theater experience. “I think that’s really where there was a spark. Just being on stage and hearing people clap. After seeing a standing ovation I though that maybe I could do this with magic. Maybe a magic show could get this response.”
Hill graduated from Penn State Beaver even though he spent more time at the magic shop “riffing” with other magicians than at school during his college days. He began working at The Cuckoo’s Nest as an independent contractor magician during his junior year. The prestigious position involved demonstrating magic for customers while also learning new tricks daily.
“I worked at the shop for eight years. I spent most of my time doing “pet tricks” that were easy to sell. They helped me polish my style,” Hill added.
After six years of working at the shop, Hill received a call from booking agent and fellow magician Kevin Hurley of Standing O Entertainment in Pittsburgh. Hurley signed him on to fill slots at family events such as birthday parties. The gigs led to bigger, more prominent shows as he developed a strong reputation in the Pittsburgh area. By 2003, Hill was given a chance to perform at Nakama on a weekly basis.
“It was every Friday and Saturday, and that really spring-boarded my career. I started meeting visiting celebrities, and gave my card out to everyone,” Hill said of his Nakama shows. “I was fortunate to do magic for the PR director for the Pittsburgh Penguins (Jennifer Bullano), and she booked me for their locker room shows.”
Hill began performing at private team family events, and at their annual Christmas party at the Windham Hotel. After getting to know the players, he found out that he lived next door to Maxime Talbot. Talbot began booking him for monthly parties at his apartment, which led to more player event performances. Hill was soon asked to conduct a magic show during the cocktail hour at Ryan Malone’s wedding in Minnesota.
“[Malone] flew me out, and I did strolling , slight-of-hand magic during the cocktail hour before everyone went into the reception room. And, it went over as a big, big hit. It was huge,” Hill said. “Everything kind of snowballed from there. There were a couple of Steelers there at the time, Chris Gardocki and Jeff Reed, and [Reed] mentioned he’d put in a good word to do their party at the end of the year at Nemocolin Woodlands. So, I ended up doing the end-of-the-year Steelers party.”
During the party, Hill was noticed by Joe Hardy, owner of both 84 Lumber and Nemocolin Woodlands Resort, who started booking him on a regular basis. Also during this time, he put on shows at restaurants such as Max and Erma’s in the South Hills, the Spaghetti Warehouse, and Rivertown Brewery. He continues to put on shows in those locations to this day.
The 31-year-old’s career remains on the rise. In 2010, he was signed on by Legends Theater in Las Vegas, and then by Carnival Cruise Lines in 2011. The International Brotherhood of Magicians and Society of American Magicians member was also featured on NBC’s World’s Greatest Magic in 2012.
No specific date was set for his September appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
For more information about T.J. Hill, or to book him for a party, visit his website at http://www.magicmantjhill.com/
Behind strong scoring efforts from senior Ross Maietta and juniors Logan Sheridan and Zach Gould, the Riverside Panthers erased a 5-point halftime deficit and ousted the New Brighton Lions 73-64 during Friday night’s Senior Night action.
Maietta (10 field goals, 23 points) and Sheridan (12 free throws, 22 points) each crested over 20 points while Gould connected on three 3-pointers en route to his 19 point effort.
Riverside (7-13 overall) used a 48 point second half to pull away from New Brighton (7-14 overall). Lion guard Zeph Rombold connected on five 3-pointers en route to his game-high 24 points in defeat.
The Panthers end their season Monday evening at Union.
Riverside senior Natalie Pritts connected on a pair 3-pointers en route to a 12-point game in her final game for the Lady Panthers Thursday Night as Riverside routed New Brighton 57-27 on senior night.
Katie Stang lead all scorers with 24 points as Riverside (6-6 Section 2-AA, 9-10 overall) bolted out to a 26-8 halftime lead on the Lions.
The Panther girls close out the season at Union as the opening game of a girls/boys double-header at 6 p.m. Monday. The Riverside boys take on the hosting Scotties at 7:30 p.m. in Riverside’s season finale.
Ellwood City took a lead in the fourth quarter Tuesday night against Beaver, but the Bobcats spoiled Senior Night for the Wolverines with a 53-46 victory at Lincoln High School.
The Wolverines (1-11, 4-17) went into the half tied at 25, and outscored Beaver (4-7, 7-12) by 10-7 in the third quarter. But, the Bobcats erupted for 21 in the final frame and took the Section 2-AAA match.
Matt Morabito (14) and Tanner Walsh (11) led all Wolverines in scoring. Justin Vetica also chipped in with eight points.
Ellwood City heads to Our Lady of Sacred Heart on Thursday in their 2013/14 season finale.
For the seventh time in the past year, Ellwood City welcomed a new business to town.
Brooks’ A Bella Boutique, located at 503 Lawrence Ave., opened its doors to the public last Friday. The high-end consignment store affords Ellwood City residents the opportunity to buy gently used designer clothes at heavily discounted price. Also, it serves as an outlet for people who have “special occasion” clothing that they may never wear again.
“I’ve always loved fashion, and I never thought I would buy resale until I went into some other consignment shops,” store owner Genine Brooks said. “Women buy clothes for occasions and never wear them again. I am guilty of it. We spend so much on them, and usually get nothing in return. It’s silly just to give them away. By bringing them here, you get a return on your investment, and you give someone else the opportunity to get high-end clothes at 30%-50% of the retail price, based on their condition.”
Brooks, a Youngstown native, believes that her store will compliment many other local businesses, which in turn will help in the revitalization of Ellwood City. She moved to Ellwood City in 1998 with her husband and two sons, but felt that she needed to go out of town to shop for clothes. By opening Brooks’ A Bella Boutique, she believes that her store will not only add convenience in shopping, but will also keep business in Ellwood City.
“There is a vision for this town, which is to build up Ellwood City,” Brooks explained. “I used to go to Boardman and Cranberry to buy clothes. [Brooks’ A Bella Boutique] offers convenience right here in town, so you won’t have to make a special trip. And, if we don’t offer something, I will endorse other local stores that do. People want to see businesses in town instead of empty storefronts.”
Brooks’ A Bella Boutique also offers current home decor items and books, but her focus is on fashion. Currently, the store focuses on women’s designer clothing and accessories, but she plans to open a men’s department in the future.
“I am amazed at how many men have come to me and asked about clothing. [The store] provides something for ladies, but hopefully it will for men soon,” Brooks added. “My goal is to build long-term clientele.”
Brooks also talked about the prospect of adding a children’s line of clothing.
“I do not intend to go into children’s clothing,” Brooks said. “But, I will refer anyone who comes in and asks to Perpetual Childhood across the street.
Brooks’ A Bella Boutique needs consignors and buyers to in order to operate efficiently. Consignment consists of bringing in clean, well-maintained contemporary clothing on hangers, and signing a 90-day contract. If the clothing is sold, consignors receive 40% of profit payouts on the 15th of every month. The items must be genuine. If the clothing does not sell within the 90-day period, Brooks donates it to one of three non-profit charities.
“I do not want the donation centers to profit from the clothing we donate,” Brooks continued.
Currently, the store is taking winter clothing until Feb. 20. Then, it is accepting spring, which will be available for purchase on March 1.
Brooks’ A Bella Boutique is open Monday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Check out their Facebook page.
On Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, Mayor Anthony J. Court presented Sister Joanne of Holy Redeemer School a proclamation honoring National Catholic School Week in the Borough of Ellwood City.
During the week, many activities focused on families and Catholic Education as a way to put religion back into the daily lives of our young children. Participating were: School administration, teachers and students, Holy Redeemer church, families, parishioners and community members. They believe that Catholic education shapes how young people are molded by faith. It teaches them to get involved in their communities and the church. Also, they receive a first rate education.
National Catholic Schools Week is held annually to teach Catholic children about their religion.
On Tuesday, Feb. 4, Mayor Anthony J. Court was honored to swear in Norina Owens as a Chaplin of the Ellwood City Police Department. Mayor Court, along with many of the Ellwood City Area Ministerium members, gathered at Venezia’s Pizzeria to celebrate the induction and welcome the newest Owens to the Ellwood City Police Department.
After the ceremony, religious leaders enjoyed good food and fellowship. Mayor Court believes Owens is the first Ellwood City Police Department female Chaplin. She joins Reverend Tod Custer and Reverend Miko Tervo, who also volunteer their service to the department.
Fresh off of a strong showing in the WPIAL team playoffs, the Ellwood City Wrestling team returned home for Senior Night on Thursday and defeated West Middlesex, 58-18.
Five pins, a major decision, and three forfeits gave Ellwood City the edge. Mike Sinclair hit the 20-pin plateau by taking six points against Gator Thompson in the 220-lb match. Also earning pins were Brad Grinnin, Carter MacMurdo, Bryan McCarthy, and J.T. Baldelli. Zach Pounds won by major decision (12-4) against Jason Ash in the 152-lb bout.
The team’s final meet occurs on Feb. 6 when they host Ambridge. Then, the WPIAL Individual Finals begin on Feb. 15.
ELLWOOD CITY HS (ECH) 58.0 WEST MIDDLESEX HS (WMH) 18.0
106: Tyler Alberts, ECH, pinned Jacob Wiser, WMH, 1:40.
113: Mitchell Murray, WMH, dec. Zach Power, ECH, 8-1.
120: Carter MacMurdo, ECH, pinned Walter Drda, WMH, 3:17.
126: Jordan Lemanski, ECH, forfeit.
132: Bryan McCarthy, ECH, pinned Douglas Brennen, WMH, 1:51.
138: Brandon Dick, WMH, dec. Christian Kerr, ECH, 3-1.
145: Donnie Kerr, ECH, forfeit.
152: Zach Pounds, ECH, maj. dec. Jason Ash, WMH, 12-4.
160: David McCarthy, ECH, forfeit.
170: JT Baldelli, ECH, pinned Joey Trippy, WMH, 3:28.
182: Eric Lucich, WMH, pinned Jacob Mayle, ECH, 0:23.
195: Brad Grinnen, ECH, pinned Austin Groenendaal, WMH, 0:26.
220: Mike Sinclair, ECH, pinned Gator Thompson, WMH, 1:19.
285: Jeffery Spencer, WMH, pinned Adam Foreman, ECH, 3:39.
An Ellwood City man was arrested on Jan. 17 after he allegedly coerced a 15-year-old girl into having sex with him by way of blackmail.
Jason Edward Lambright, 23, residence currently undefined, faces seven charges including rape, aggravated indecent assault, and corruption of a minor.
According to the report, police were advised to speak with a 15-year-old girl and her mother in reference to a sexual assault. The girl advised officers that in February 2013, she sent several naked photos of herself to a Facebook account thought to be controlled by a New Castle man.
She explained that Lambright, a registered sex offender, contacted her and admitted that the account was his, and that he would not tell her mother about the photos if she had sex with him. She refused to accept the deal, thus Lambright continued to threaten her. Then, he showed up at her Ellwood City home and forcibly engaged her in sexual intercourse. The victim explained that she had never had sex before, nor has she since.
She kept the incident a secret and believed it was over until Lambright contacted her again on Jan. 5. He told her via text message that she needed to keep the deal with him and give him what he wants, or else he would create a Facebook page and send the nude photos to her mother. At this point, the girl changed her phone number to keep Lambright from contacting her, and informed her mother of the incident.
After involving the police in the matter, the Beaver County district attorney’s office and Beaver County Children and Youth Services interviewed the girl on Jan. 17. During the interview, her mother, who sat in, explained that Lambright contacted her and asked for money on Jan. 15. Thus, out of frustration, she confronted him about the allegations though a series of text messages. Lambright denied the accusations, but made several comments back explaining that he refused to go back to prison and that he would kill himself if she reported the incident.
The interview confirmed that the phone number used in the conversation between the victim’s mother and Lambright was the same one used to text the victim 95 times on Jan. 5 from 5:44 p.m. to 10:12 p.m.
Lambright was also convicted of corruption of minors in 2010. And, in September 2013, he failed to comply with the parameters of Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law by not informing police that he changed addresses.
The accused stood before Judge Jerry Cartwight, Jr. in a preliminary hearing on Jan. 27, and is currently being held at Beaver County Prison on $100,000 bail.