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Liberty girl headed to music concert

| Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, 1:16 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Caitlin Conroy, 10, of Liberty is all smiles as she shows off her new guitar. It's one of many gifts Kim Shidel, vice president of White Oak-based charity Jamie's Dream Team, gave to her on Thursday.

Caitlin Conroy wants to be a musician. The 10-year-old Liberty girl sings and listens to music a lot.

She suffers from epilepsy, as well as an inoperable low-grade glioma or brain tumor and several learning disorders.

A fourth-grader at South Allegheny Elementary School, Caitlin was diagnosed with epilepsy and the tumor in September 2010 after she suffered a seizure during a car ride with family members.

But the health challenges aren't keeping Caitlin from her musical dream, thanks to a White Oak-based nonprofit organization. Jamie's Dream Team, which makes dreams come true for the terminally ill and injured, has provided her with a new Mitchell acoustic guitar, guitar lessons, a Primanti Brothers gift card and spending cash to go along with tickets to Friday night's Selena Gomez concert at the Petersen Event Center.

Caitlin will be in the crowd with her mother and several others singing her favorite Gomez song, “Who Says.”

Caitlin's tumor is inoperable because it touches the brain stem and the procedure to remove it is too risky, said her mother, Shelley Conroy. She said her daughter suffered from other illnesses before and after the diagnosis, she was in and out of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC many times.

“Every time we go it's something new,” she said. “The hardest part is struggling with the epilepsy.”

Dream Team vice president Kim Shidel said the guitar and guitar lessons came from Guitar Center in Monroeville.

Caitlin was all smiles on Thursday at Shidel's house, and said she was happy to have her dream come true.

Shelley Conroy wrote a letter to Jamie's Dream Team founder Jamie Holmes after Caitlin's aunt contacted the organization.

“I was really excited to be able to do this for her,” Holmes said. “When I met her I knew she was deserving. They're a wonderful family.”

“It's amazing what you guys do,” Shelley Conroy told Holmes after volunteering to help the organization. “We think that music will help her 'cause she'll relax. We're hoping she's a musical genius; who knows.”

Holmes has made dreams come true for more than 320 families in the past six years.

The latest fundraiser is a Coach and Vera Bradley Purse Bash on Nov. 2 from 6:30-10 p.m. at the Boston Spectrum, 6001 E. Smithfield St. in Elizabeth Township. Tickets are limited. A $25 donation is required. The event includes free food and refreshments. Winners need not be present. All prizes must be claimed within 30 days. Call 412-377-3898 for more information.

All purses come with a gift receipt and are exchangeable at the Ross Park Mall Coach and Vera Bradley stores.

More information about Jamie's Dream Team is available online at www.jamiesdreamteam.myfastsite.net. Monetary donations to Jamie's Dream Team can be sent to 2023 Cypress Drive, White Oak, 15147.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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