Stahlstown walk to benefit Emma Marie Keller Memorial Foundation
After their 5-month old daughter died due to complications from preeclampsia, Saltlick's Ryan and Chrissy Keller formed the Emma Marie Keller Memorial Foundation as a way to give back to the community that helped them through that difficult period in their lives.
“We wanted to do something to honor her memory,” Ryan Keller said.
The foundation's primary fundraiser, the Emma Marie Keller Walk, allows the Kellers to support families who encounter unexpected long-term hospital stays as a result of the disorder in which the placenta does not function properly.
The foundation is also dedicated to spreading awareness of preeclampsia and helping other families in similar situations, the Kellers explained recently to members of the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society at the organization's monthly meeting.
Preeclampsia, which occurs in 5 to 8 percent of all pregnancies in the United States, is characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation website, and it affects both mother and unborn baby.
When Emma was delivered 12 weeks early, she was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
“Every day was a trip into the city, and not once did I have to worry about money for gas, tolls, bills or food,” Ryan Keller said. “People on this mountain are amazing. Every day we received donations from friends, neighbors and churches ... people we didn't even know.
“We wanted to give back,” he said.
Foundation members regularly prepare and deliver care packages including snacks and toiletry kits containing everyday necessities to Children's Hospital, along with Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC, UPMC Mercy, Children's Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center and Allegheny Health Network West Penn Hospital.
It also provides gifts cards for gas, groceries or eating on the go to ease financial burdens of long-term illness.
“We just want families to know there is someone thinking about them,” Ryan Keller said.
During the holidays, foundation funds go toward the purchase of gifts for the children and their families, the most special of which is a copy of a child's hand or footprint attached to an inspiring poem for families to take home with them.
“It's so hard to go home and leave your child in the NICU,” Ryan Keller said. “We want the families to have this tangible thing to hold, to make it a little easier.”
The seventh annual Emma Marie Keller Walk is slated for Aug. 23 at the Cook Township Community Center in Stahlstown.
Registration will begin at 9 a.m. with a three-mile walk following at 10 a.m.
The event will include breakfast and lunch and will feature family-friendly activities throughout the day.
Face painting, a DJ, character drawings, a Chinese Auction and visits from local firefighters are scheduled.
The afternoon will conclude with a balloon release.
Keller said people do not have to walk to participate, but are welcome to simply come enjoy the event, which is expected to draw more than 100 participants.
Pre-registration will cost $25. It includes a T-shirt to wear at the walk. Those interested can sign up on the foundation's website — emkmemorial.blogspot.com.
The site also contains information about other ways to help, such as how to donate items to be auctioned off or how to help sponsor the event.
“The walk is a really nice way for us to remember Emma,” said Chrissy Keller, who added that it was important to her for the event to be held near Emma's Aug. 22 birthday.
The Kellers said support from family, friends and the community has been amazing — both during that trying time in their lives and now.
They credit God, their church and the support of their loved ones and the community for the success of the foundation.
“We have an amazing group of people that help us every year,” Ryan Keller said. “We wouldn't have gotten this far without them.”
Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
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.
- Black Friday could be a wet one in Connellsville, Mt. Pleasant areas
- ‘Christmas in the Mountains’ to be held Dec. 4-6 in Mt. Pleasant area
- Westmoreland County, Mt. Pleasant Borough officials try to solve Willow parking issue
- Mt. Pleasant Business District Authority plans ‘Small Business Saturday’ event
- Mt. Pleasant Borough’s $10M Main Street project postponed
- Mt. Pleasant-based group offers Narcan session for first responders
- Donegal merchant revives cancer research fundraiser
- Life Skills students tour Mt. Pleasant-area Subway restaurant
- Forbes: Mt. Pleasant church serving up free Thanksgiving dinner