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Alexandra's Butterflies of Hope aids pediatric patients

| Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, 9:43 p.m.

Local Lions are reaching out to help Alexandra's Butterflies of Hope.

Alexandra's Butterflies of Hope is named for Alexandra Schaney, 12, of Charlotte, N.C., who was diagnosed with stage-four neuroblastoma in 2004. Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer that affects the central nervous system and the adrenal gland. Since being diagnosed in 2004, Alexandra has had several reoccurrences of the disease with the latest being March of this past year.

Alexandra's parents, Clint and Kelly Schaney, formerly of Uniontown, must take their daughter to Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York for treatment. The hospital specializes in 3F8 immunotherapy treatments which are designed to destroy the neuroblastoma cells. Each treatment can cost as much as $30,000.

The girl's aunt, Christine Schaney of Hopwood, said the family was recently informed they must return to New York City for several weeks for the preteen to undergo more treatments.

Schaney, who is also chief executive officer of Alexandra's Butterflies of Hope, said the charity was started at the request of her niece. While receiving treatments in New York several years ago, Alexandra, who was very young at the time, became very aware of the other children who were ill like her and were having trouble getting to the hospital. She told her aunt they had to do something to help the other children and that is what they did.

The nonprofit organization raises funds to help Alexandra and other children with cancer as well as other life threatening diseases. Schaney said the organization has helped several children locally as well as in other parts of the country.

“We are a unique nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide financial, emotional and logistical support to children with life threatening health conditions, primarily juvenile cancers,” Schaney said. “But we have also helped children with heart conditions.”

Murder, mystery and fun will be all elements in the Lion's Club District 14-M fundraiser when it hosts the Bake Off Murder Mystery Dinner benefiting Alexandra's Butterflies of Hope.

The fundraiser will be held Nov. 17 at the Historic Stone House Inn at 3023 National Pike in Farmington.

“I was looking for an event for our district to do as a family. Family is our theme for the year,” said district governor of District 14-M Eric Dolfi of Dolfi Funeral Home in Uniontown. “It's a great cause and the Lions are always here to help and serve.”

This is the first time the Lions Club has hosted an event for the non-profit organization.

“This is how we make our money to donate. We have no administrative costs so 100 percent of the funds we raise go to helping those in need,” Schaney said. “We are honored that the Lions of District 14-M want to help.”

The event begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails. Dinner will begin at 7 p.m. The menu for dinner includes roasted butternut squash soup with maple cream, cranberry, shrimp, and pecan stuffed chicken breast, over sausage-wild rice casserole, Stone House bread pudding with vanilla bourbon sauce and vanilla ice cream.

The Stone House will also debut a new wine that evening. “One Hope” is a Robert Mondovi wine from which $3 of every bottle purchased goes to fight breast cancer.

“We thought it was a great time to debut the wine with Breast Cancer Awareness month being last month and the wine having hope in the name like Alexandra's Butterflies of Hope, this way we are helping two great organizations at once,” Schaney said.

The entertainment for the evening will be presented by Jonaleka Productions of Brownsville. The acting troupe will present “The Bake Off Murder.”

“It's very snappy, funny, a little risqué and a lot of fun. There is nothing terribly dramatic or intense. It's a laugh a minute,” said troupe founder and director Michael Rohlf.

The cast includes Brad Geyer of Connellsville, who will be the master of ceremonies; John Wisilosky of Connellsville as the judge; Patty Galino of Uniontown as the librarian; Kat Post of Scottdale as the high society lady and Chelsea Forbes as Scooter Bright.

Rohlf said the audience members are witnesses to the crime who will take part in the questioning.

“They will get a chance to look around for clues and figure out who did it,” Rohlf said.

Cost of the event is $30 per person. Reservations are required.

In addition to the dinner and show, there will also be a Chinese auction with around 20 different items including Tiffany jewelry and many nice baskets.

For more information on the event, call Schaney at 724-880-5043; for reservations call the Stone House at 724-329-8876 or 800-274-7138. The deadline for reservations is Wednesday. Cancellations must be made 72 hours before the event

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.

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