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School helps Elizabeth Township third-grader get leg up on lymphoma

| Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, 5:23 a.m.
Mikey Meskanick, 9, center, and his parents Michael and Erin, talk about the boy's bout with lymphoma. Mikey was diagnosed with the disease in November. On Monday, his school held a blood drive in his honor.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Mikey Meskanick, 9, center, and his parents Michael and Erin, talk about the boy's bout with lymphoma. Mikey was diagnosed with the disease in November. On Monday, his school held a blood drive in his honor. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Roxanne Miller from Central Blood Bank, right, draws blood from Alison Smith of Elizabeth Township on Monday at Mt. Vernon Elementary School durring a blood drive honoring Mikey Meskanick, who is a student at the school. 
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Roxanne Miller from Central Blood Bank, right, draws blood from Alison Smith of Elizabeth Township on Monday at Mt. Vernon Elementary School durring a blood drive honoring Mikey Meskanick, who is a student at the school. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Elizabeth Forward students Lilly Barker and Ryan Huss inspect prizes from a Chinese auction benefiting their friend Mikey Maskenick, who was diagnosed with lymphoma this fall. The auction was part of a blood drive honoring Mikey at Mt. Vernon Elementary School on Monday. 
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Elizabeth Forward students Lilly Barker and Ryan Huss inspect prizes from a Chinese auction benefiting their friend Mikey Maskenick, who was diagnosed with lymphoma this fall. The auction was part of a blood drive honoring Mikey at Mt. Vernon Elementary School on Monday. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News

Mikey Meskanick, 9, of Elizabeth Township is passionate about Legos.

The third-grader at Mt. Vernon Elementary School said he has “about 40” different sets of the snap-together construction toys, including a model of Yoda from “Star Wars.” He's also a fan of board games, baseball and swimming, and is a member of a Boy Scout troop.

This past August, he started feeling pain in his ankle that became even worse when school began. After several trips to the hospital for testing, Mikey was diagnosed with stage 2 large cell type B lymphoma. He is undergoing chemotherapy treatments for the disease.

On Monday, Mikey's school hosted a blood donation drive in his honor through the Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh. Some 120 people registered for the drive. There were also many walk-in donors.

Mikey's parents, Erin and Michael Meskanick, said they are touched by the outpouring of support from the community.

“It's humbling,” said Erin Meskanick, who runs the Cross Creek Inn with her husband.

Noting that their restaurant often supports similar drives for area residents, she said it's an odd feeling to have her family be the beneficiary of such an event.

Erin Meskanick said many people signed up for the drive after it was posted on Facebook. She said the school district has been extremely supportive of their family in this difficult time.

Mikey is one of three seriously ill children at Mt. Vernon Elementary.

Over the weekend, the school hosted a spaghetti fundraising dinner for fifth-grader Jeremy “JJ” Smith, who is battling a malignant brain tumor. Last year the school raised $3,000 for kidney research in honor of kidney transplant patient Sydney Knicely, who also attends Mt. Vernon.

“We try to support families in the way that they asked to be supported,” said Mt. Vernon principal Jennifer Meliton. “If there is anything that we can do for the kids when they are sick, we want to do it.”

Many in the community apparently felt the same way.

“I heard about this on Facebook so I figured I'd help out,” said Michelle Snyder, a friend of the Meskanick family.

Township resident Stephanie Squibb was among those to roll up her sleeves to donate.

Squibb said she knows the family through Scouting and the PTO.

“We're all coming together,” she said.

Mikey has a younger brother in kindergarten at Greenock Elementary.

A spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Mikey will take place at St. Michael's Church in Elizabeth Township on Feb. 24 from 1-6 p.m.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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