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Pine Girl Scout's 5K project to help sick teens

| Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 9:01 p.m.
Savannah Null, 16, is a 10th-grader at Pine-Richland High School and organizer of the Teens Are Patients Too 5K set for April 18 in Pine Community Park to benefit hospitalized teenagers at Children’s Hospital. The event is Null’s project to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award .
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Savannah Null, 16, is a 10th-grader at Pine-Richland High School and organizer of the Teens Are Patients Too 5K set for April 18 in Pine Community Park to benefit hospitalized teenagers at Children’s Hospital. The event is Null’s project to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award .

Savannah Null knows all about being a young hospital patient.

As a preschooler, Savannah, 16, spent days in intensive care at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh after catching a virus and going into life-threatening septic shock.

“I know getting your mind off stuff really helps,” said Savannah, now a 10th-grader at Pine-Richland High School.

To help brighten teenagers' stays in Children's Hospital, Savannah seeks board games, craft kits, and other gift items for the hospital's adolescent patients.

A donation of such a gift is required to enter the Teens Are Patients Too 5K set to start at 9 a.m. April 18 in Pine Community Park. People of any age may walk or run the course.

Savannah organized the event to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, and to raise awareness about an age group of patients at Children's Hospital.

“When people think of Children's Hospital, I don't think they think of the older kids,” said Savannah, daughter of Jeff and Rusti Null of Pine.

Savannah, a member of Girl Scout Troop 51172, discussed her project at the March 16 meeting of Pine's supervisors.

Guiding Savannah's race-organizing efforts is Joni Patsko, township director of parks and recreation.

“I thought, ‘How nice for a young kid to even think about those things,'” Patsko said. “I hope she collects a lot of presents for those teens.”

Patsko also praised Savannah's efforts to line up race sponsors and timing equipment for the event.

One can't simply solicit funds for an organization to get the Girl Scout Gold Award.

“Girl Scouts make a promise to help others,” said Lisa Slade, public relations manager for the Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania. “Once they find a need they have to find a way to address it.”

Savannah said old photos of people visiting her as a child at Children's Hospital helped inspire her project.

Her mother remembers taking Savannah, then age 4, to the hospital's emergency room.

“She had been sick for about a week. … It started out with a virus,” Rusti Null said.

Savannah doesn't remember all that.

“The one thing I remember is playing a memory game with my grandmother that the (hospital's) Child Life Department gave me,” Savannah said. Last year, Savannah asked people to bring donations for hospitalized teenagers to her birthday party. Savannah then delivered the donations to Children's Hospital.

“They said, ‘This is so great. We never get anything for the teen patients,'” said Savannah, recalling the seeds of her Girl Scout Gold Award Project.

People can support Savannah's Girl Scout Gold Award project by placing gifts for hospitalized teenagers before April 18 in a drop-off box at Pine Community Center in Pine Community Park. Suggested donations include: gift cards for Best Buy, Toys R' Us, Barnes & Noble, Target, Wal-Mart or iTunes; craft kits, model kits; scrapbooks; board games; nail polish sets; DVDs, books, magazines, video games, slippers, pajamas, sweat pants, T-shirts and sports team apparel.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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