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Communities join forces to help the Forever Fund

| Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 2:26 a.m.

Communities are coming together to kick off an aluminum can drive to benefit the Forever Fund, a UPMC Children's Hospital Foundation charity.

Port Vue Mayor Brien Hranics spearheaded the project when he was inspired by the experience of a co-worker's family with the Forever Fund.

Sarah Smith said she and her husband William, of Elizabeth Township, went to the hospital on June 3, 2012, expecting to deliver a healthy baby boy, but their experience did not match their expectations.

Their son Ryan was born with an undiagnosed congenital heart defect called transposition of the great artery, or TGA, which had him facing heart surgery when he was only days old.

The Smiths were unprepared for Ryan's two-week hospital stay, and the Forever Fund stepped in to help them.

Smith said the fund is for anyone, whether from the Pittsburgh area or out of town, who might need help with the expense of gas, parking, food or lodging.

“(It is for) anything you might need help with while your child is (an) in-patient,” she said.

“We were so grateful for the help of the Forever Fund and for all of the help we received at Children's. The staff, nurses, surgeons — they all took such good care of Ryan. Everyone was so caring and helped us get through such a hard time.”

Hranics said his sister had a similar experience in Hershey, when her son was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect, and later faced leukemia.

“I can't really do anything to pay Hershey back for all that they did for my sister and my nephew, but I can do something to help other families who face similar situations here closer to home,” Hranics said.

He said he is grateful he was able to use his position as mayor to bring people together for the cause.

Lincoln, Versailles and Glassport will join Port Vue in collecting in April.

“I think this is for a very good cause and we think it's great that the local municipalities are joining together to help,” Lincoln Councilwoman Tammy Firda said.

Residents are asked to save aluminum cans through April 27, when they can be put out for collection in a secure location.

Residents should not place cans directly on the curb or near the road, and instead place them farther back on the property, preferably in a box or bag labeled “Forever Fund” or “Children's Hospital.”

Firda said the cans will be collected by local officials and firefighters from the participating boroughs.

The collection is not limited to residents of the participating boroughs, Hranics said.

Others can call 412-673-8865 and leave a message to schedule a pickup, make a monetary donation or volunteer assistance.

“Any and all donations are greatly appreciated,” Hranics said.

Hranics said he likely will plan another collection for the fall, so that residents can continue to collect cans.

“I like to do a special project twice a year and earmark the money collected for a local organization or charity,” Hranics said. “I'm grateful that I can use my position as mayor as a platform and get others together to do some good for the community.”

“It's such a great thing that Brien is doing to help these children and their families who could be in-patient for who knows how much time,” Smith said. “We're so grateful to everyone who has come together to help.”

For more information or to schedule a pickup, call Hranics at 412-673-8865.

Rickie Davis is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at rdavis@tribweb.com.

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