‘Race for a Cure’ Aids Cancer Patients

Janine Kijowski’s sister-in-law, Marie, said Janine must have the largest wings in Heaven due to her heart on Earth. She will be honored again during the 4th annual ‘Race for a Cure’ Saturday in Manor Township. (submitted).

By Jonathan Weaver

Since 2011, the Janine Kijowski Race for a Cure in Manor Township has become more than a 5K, but a way for families to connect and help each other through a deadly and crippling disease: cancer.

Janine – a former ACMH emergency and outpatient registration clerk – lost her battle with B-cell lymphoma December 2, 2010. But, the Kijowski/Boltz Family keeps fighting, sister-in-law Marie said.

“Since her passing, we have continued to pay it forward,” Marie said. “Usually, somebody from the community will give us a name of somebody in financial need and then we always pick a second person from the Laube Cancer Center.

“Our money goes directly to the patients. Last year, we donated over $10,000, just from the race.”

Two cancer patients – Worthington breast cancer patient Susan Milligan and another Kittanning woman with reoccurring Hodgkins lymphoma – will benefit from the fourth annual 5K this Saturday morning in Manor Township.

About 75 runners are registered to start racing at 9AM at the Pattonville VFW, but Marie expects between 50 and 100 more Saturday morning.

“Every year we do this and people get word of it, more and more people have been coming,” Marie said. “Once we help a family and they see what we’re all about, they want to be involved, so we’re growing bigger and bigger every year.”

Janine’s husband, Nick, will also race in honor of his wife, and has done so at other regional marathons since her passing. Marie’s sister, Rose Alwine, and mother, Sue, will also race in what is expected to be a sunny morning.

“Janine had the largest heart in the whole wide world. Her smile was so contagious,” Marie said. “Her funeral never closed. My motto is ‘she had the largest heart on the Earth, so she has to have the hugest wings in Heaven.’”

“She wasn’t my sister-in-law; she was my sister.”

Susan Milligan has been Marie’s best friend since classes at Worthington High, and has been battling breast cancer for two years.

The 55-year-old former Armstrong County elderly caregiver will be at the event with her family.

Milligan’s younger sister – Marycarole Dixon of Kittanning – will participate in her second 5K Saturday. She lost her mother, Geraldine, to cancer 13 years ago and also has two aunts and two cousins battling the disease.

She carries a keychain in honor of breast cancer, and said the support from Saturday’s benefit will help pay off some of Milligan’s medical bills.

“Just to hear them mentioning her name is just enough for me, but to donate…,” Dixon said.

She said her sister’s sense of humor “gets (her) through.”

Older brother, Earl of Dayton, will also attend this weekend – which also includes a picnic and pig roast at noon at the VFW.

A half-dozen bands will also perform at the event.

Nearly 130 came to the inaugural event in 2011 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The nonprofit hosts two benefits per year, and aided two men at the other which occurred on Super Bowl Sunday in February.

Tickets to participate in the race, picnic and receive a t-shirt are $25, but tickets for the picnic only are $15.


YMCA Adds Adult Adaptive Program

Nearly 40 participants of the new Richard G. Snyder YMCA adult adaptive program fill the lower gymnasium Tuesday morning during their first class (photo by Paul Tatarko).

By Jonathan Weaver

For two years, Richard G. Snyder YMCA CEO Joely Beeker has worked to establish or grow adaptive programs at the Kittanning facility.

Last year, it was receiving a $10,000 grant to enroll more K-6th graders in the children program, and Tuesday was the inaugural adult class.

Beginning at 9:45AM Tuesday, Program Director Robert Law, Fitness Director Hillary Brown and Aquatics Director Ryan Good worked with nearly 40 residents from LifeSteps in West Kittanning, Evergreen Homes in Ford City, as well as those independent residents.

“(Yesterday) was the first one, and I couldn’t be happier,” Beeker said. “If you would’ve told me we would’ve had 37 (participants), I never would’ve believed you. I couldn’t be more-pleased with the turnout (yesterday).”

For 45 minutes, participants can either undergo exercises in the warm water pool and games in the lap pool and/or 45 minutes of strength training in the circuit room and four stations of games in the gymnasium.

“There’s no other program like this – a lot of the adults were traveling to (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) for the SNAP (Special Needs Adaptive Program),” Beeker said. “There was a definite need – it was just coming together and finding the best days that would work for these individuals.

“It’s just great to see these individuals accomplish something – they get a big grin on their face, and that’s just so rewarding,” Beeker said.

The current session will be held the next five Tuesday mornings – until October 21 – before another session begins and lasts until December.

Instructors received adaptive training and watching SNAP Program Director Dr. David Lorenzi at IUP, as well as those at Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh.

A half-dozen children took part in the first gym-and-swim program of the school year Tuesday evening.

Four years ago, it was Rachael Burnette of Freeport who asked for such a program to be set up for children like her now-11 year old son, Ian.

Ian is still involved in the program, and has identified with other children in the class – such as nine-year-old R. J. Scaife of Kittanning.

Scaife’s mother, Christa, said they were the second family to enroll in the class.

“He looks forward to it – there isn’t a whole lot of physical activity around here he can do,” Christa said. “He isn’t really good at group sports, and he likes to swim –and obviously, he can’t do that outside in the winter.”

Christa said R.J. is better at following directions because of the class structure.

Joe Aires of Ford City got the family membership specifically for his children to utilize the activities offered – whether it is soccer and Stingrays swimming for eight-year-old twins, Dante and Isabella, or the adaptive program for 13-year-old Arianna.

“This is her thing. She loves it – she was so excited the last two-three weeks to come back and see her friends,” Joe said. “It’s her favorite thing in the world.”

At the end of last school year, Aires said there were up to about a dozen children some evenings.

Five instructors played and swam with children Tuesday evening – including Law, Good and Special Needs Instructor Tatum Cravener.

“They have gained tremendously. They’ve made strides – whether it be physical or through communication,” Law said.

It was easy for Law to describe how the first two adaptive sessions went: “pure awesome.”

He said both the adult and children sessions will have similar activities this fall.

“We’re going to do a lot of the same activities – just modified. You can still reach them and have that fun atmosphere,” Law said.

Both sessions are open to new members and participants.