Community reaches out to North Apollo infant's grieving family
By Liz Hayes
Published: Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, 12:51 a.m.
Friends of Samantha Ludwiczak and her children were impressed with the outpouring of community support the family received on Sunday.
“The community really pulled through,” said Christine Stasenko of Washington Township as she observed the crowd at the Oklahoma Borough fire hall, where a spaghetti dinner raised money for the family coping with the death of 2-month-old Sophia Ludwiczak. The child died last week of brain injuries she suffered after police say she was shaken violently by Matthew Milisits, 30, of Vandergrift.
Milisits was charged with aggravated assault before the child died; authorities are investigating whether more serious charges are warranted. Milisits remains in the Westmoreland County jail awaiting a preliminary hearing tentatively scheduled for Dec. 11.
Stasenko, a childhood friend of Samantha Ludwiczak, organized the dinner to help defray medical and funeral expenses and to cover other needs of the child's mother and Sophia's surviving siblings, Abbigail and Jonathan.
About an hour into the dinner, Stasenko estimated 200 people had each donated $8 or more for spaghetti and fixings. More than 30 gift baskets were raffled off, and volunteers sold desserts, memorial T-shirts and commemorative bracelets.
Ludwiczak and her family members were present, but Stasenko said they didn't want to be interviewed.
“She's still going through a rough time,” Stasenko said. “She's trying her best.”
Stasenko said it was challenging to pull together a benefit dinner in such a short time, but businesses donated items and many people helped.
Alyssa Tourney, a relative of Stasenko, came from Pittsburgh with other family members to show their support. Tourney said her aunt and mother provided several gift baskets.
Cindy Dunmire said she and Heidi Walker, both of Apollo, pitched in to buy 200 rubber blue bracelets that read “Sophia's Entourage. Prevent Child Abuse.” They were being sold for $2 each.
“It's awesome so far,” Dunmire said of the community's response. “There's a lot of support for Samantha and her family.”
Stasenko said more T-shirts featuring Sophia's picture are being produced and will be sold to raise money for the family.
Stasenko said she wasn't sure how much money was raised Sunday, nor was she certain whether any other fundraisers would be arranged.
Earlier Sunday, Paul and Deborah Kaczor of Upper Burrell, Ludwiczak's uncle and aunt, collected toys and money for the Ludwiczak children at Hillcrest Shopping Center in Lower Burrell. A fund also has been set up through PNC Bank.
“We don't want people to forget,” Stasenko said. “This won't be the end.”
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Agreement nears on Springdale police chief’s duties
- A-K Valley students offer F.R. Strong support
- Governor signs child abuse protection bills
- Starkey: Fleury’s future at stake
- Five years later, Crosby wants another Cup win
- EF volleyball standout Waters will sign with Loyola (Md.)
- Penguins’ Malkin expects to play in Game 1
- Legal experts question prosecuting South Fayette boy for recording bullies
- Jailed Hribal ‘fine,’ but family ‘terrible’ as answers in stabbing sought
- Victory on Friday could propel Bunola’s Salka into title fight
- Twitter buys data analytics partner