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Community, school rally around Pleasant Hills boy

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Pleasant Hills Hooligans Football Club, an adult soccer league, will host a fundraiser for a 7-year-old boy recovering from brain tumor surgery on Monday, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Monkey Bar, located at 703 Clairton Boulevard.

The event will feature a dart tournament, guest bartenders and a 50/50 raffle. Those interested in participating in the dart tournament are asked to make a $5 donation.

All of the proceeds generated from the tournament, 50/50 and tips will go to Gideon Ruch's family.

“He's the sweetest thing,” said Jaime Shimko, a neighbor of the Ruches and one of the event coordinators, whose son is a close friends of Gideon.

“He's getting better every day, which is great ... Hopefully we'll have him come back even stronger.”

Gideon Ruch, 7, a first-grader at McClellan Elementary School in Pleasant Hills, is recovering from tumor extraction surgery conducted earlier this month.

Gideon complained of constant headaches and nausea, so his parents, Jul Bibro-Ruch and Jeff Ruch, took him to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where a computed tomography scan and magnetic resonance imaging revealed a tumor on his cerebellum. The tumor was removed on March 6.

Every day Gideon shows progress, working on his fine motor skills and coordination, and he is expected to make a full recovery, Shimko said.

“They've been by him the whole time,” she said. “That's going to take a toll ... I think they'll appreciate it but never expect it.”

Gideon is a soccer and baseball player, so when members of the Hooligans club heard about his surgery, they thought it would be appropriate that the club show support for the Ruches, said Sean Richter, who also is helping to coordinate the event.

“It's just the right group of people to get together to do something,” Richter said.

Jim Maksin, another of the event's coordinators, said he agrees.

“I kind of felt the need to help the family,” Maksin said. “We all have kids that could be going through this ... It's great that people are willing to do something to help out.”

Gideon's teacher, Moira Kaczmarek, organized several activities for her class to show support for the first-grader, Principal Justin Liberatore said. Students decorated cards with personal messages and cut out paper animals with words of encouragement for the youngster.

The students also took pictures of themselves making funny faces in hallways, classrooms and various hideouts throughout the school to send to Gideon to boost his spirits, Liberatore said.

Teachers are cautious, though, when explaining Gideon's surgery to the elementary students, Liberatore said.

“All they need to know is one of our students is sick and he's just trying to get better right now and we need to do what we can to support him,” Liberatore said.

Staffers at McClellan were excited to hear about the fundraiser at the Monkey Bar because they sought ways to show support for Gideon and his family, he said.

“They wanted to do more, they just didn't know what,” Liberatore said.

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or at

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