ShareThis Page

Plum fundraiser to benefit ailing Gateway graduate

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted photo
Jon Crain holds son Eli, 3, and Sara Crain holds the couple's other son, Dylan, 4.

Susan Feldman and Sara Crain have a strong connection.

Feldman, 56, of Monroeville and Crain's mother, Susan Block, 57, of Pitcairn have been friends since they were youngsters.

Also, Block several years ago donated a kidney to Feldman's father, David Shapiro, 78, of Squirrel Hill.

When Sara Crain, 29, a 2002 Gateway High School graduate, became ill last year, Feldman wanted to help.

Crain of Coraopolis has been diagnosed with gastroparesis, a condition in which the muscles in the stomach don't function normally, preventing the stomach from emptying properly, according to the Mayo Clinic website. There is no cure, but diet change and medications are used to treat the disorder.

Crain said she also suffers from lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs and fibromyalgia, or musculoskeletal pain.

With Crain's medical bills ballooning into the thousands of dollars, Feldman decided to organize a fundraiser for her friend.

A Spring Fling Vendor Fair is scheduled for May 4 at the Holiday Park United Methodist Church in Plum. Other organizers include Block; Crain's mother-in-law, Laura Crain of Murrysville; stepmother Connie Block of Plum; stepmother-in-law Debbie Crain of Delmont; and Crain's aunt Helen Sheffler of Plum.

“I want to help Sara in any way I can,” Feldman said. “We didn't know what to do. We decided on a vendor fair.”

Sara Crain said her problems began in January 2012 when she began having knee pain. The pain quickly spread to other joints. She also developed a butterfly-shaped rash on her face that she later found out is a symptom of lupus. Crain began experiencing nausea in September 2012 and was unable to keep food down. She lost 45 pounds.

Doctors performed numerous tests and prescribed several drugs including steroids and prednisone. Nothing made Crain feel better.

“They tested me for everything,” Crain said.

In September, 2012, Crain was diagnosed with gastroparesis. She has a feeding tube that provides nutrition and decompresses the acid in her stomach.

Visits to both the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic produced thousands of dollars in medical bills for the family of four. The visits did not result in treatment breakthroughs. Crain cannot work. Crain's husband, Jon Crain is a small business owner. They have two sons, Dylan, 4, and Eli, 3.

“They (doctors) don't know what to do with me,” Crain said.

The fundraiser will kick off with a pancake breakfast, Feldman said. The menu choice will change to hot dogs and nachos in the afternoon.

The vendor fee is $25 per table. Vendors will be selling their products to those in attendance. A Chinese auction also will be featured.

Crain appreciates the time and effort going into the fundraiser.

“It is wonderful,” Crain said. “My family and I are astounded by the generosity of everyone.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.