Plum students team up with Make-A-Wish
By Karen Zapf
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Frank and Meiko Grant weren't overly concerned when their son complained of a stomach ache while playing at Chuck E. Cheese.
Hamilton Grant's doctor thought the youngster had anemia. But the results of blood work took the Bridgeville couple by surprise. The toddler, then 3, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells.
“He was a healthy baby,” said Meiko Grant, 40. “I couldn't believe it.”
The Grant family, whose son is a Make-A-Wish recipient, traveled to Plum High School last Friday to be a part of the district's 13th annual Make-A-Wish telethon.
The Plum Borough School District raised $40,549.19 for Make-A-Wish this year and will accept phone pledges when the telethon airs on Comcast Cable Channel 23 and Verizon Cable Channel 28 during the holiday break.
The total fell shy of last year's fundraising amount of $46,265. Since 2000 the district has raised more than $600,000 for the nonprofit that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Officials with Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh and Southern West Virginia said they know of no other school district in the country that has raised more money.
Brittany Youngman, Make-A-Wish representative, said the chapter has granted 13,500 wishes to date.
About 150 Plum High School students in the television production program and the National Honor Society each year begin work in the fall to videotape Make-A-Wish fundraisers at the district schools and act as production crew members, interviewers and hosts for the telethon.
Hamilton Grant, who continues to receive chemotherapy treatments, received his wish of a trip to Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center in June 2011. He was accompanied by his father, mother and sister, Madison Nevers, 12. The space center portion of the trip fascinated the youngster.
“I want to be a fighter pilot,” Hamilton Grant, 6, said.
The youngster's love of flying appears to be in his genes.
Frank Grant, 49, is a flight dispatcher for U.S. Airways. Meiko Grant is a former flight attendant.
“At the age of 2, he was watching airplanes take off,” Meiko Grant said.
Frank Grant said the Disney World trip was “awesome.”
“I was so overwhelmed, and I cried so much during that trip,” Frank Grant said. “Everyone associated with it was nice. It was so heartwarming.”
Hamilton Grant said he enjoyed the brightly decorated houses in the Give Kids the World Village where Make-A-Wish recipients stay during their trips.
Plum students have volunteered at the village.
Dante Palmieri, 16, a junior, worked ‘security' for the telethon, keeping traffic moving through the hallway outside the television production studio.
Palmieri also worked on the film crew that went to Holiday Park Elementary School to videotape a fundrasiser.
“We had a blast,” Palmieri said. “We brought smiles to their (elementary students) faces.”
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400,ext. 8753, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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