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Community day to help Freeport boy fighting cancer

Jan Pakler | For the Leader Times
Matt Wolfe, 12, relaxes on his front porch in Freeport after returning home from a day at Children's Hospital for his daily treatments.

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By Diane Orris Acerni
Friday, May 17, 2013, 3:41 a.m.

The junior high school years are often remembered as an awkward and painful time for those who can view them as ancient history. Matt Wolfe of Freeport did not get much opportunity to experience those years. He was too busy fighting something bigger and badder.

Diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoma at 12, Matt missed most of junior high school due to his disease and the sometimes brutal treatment for it.

Ninth grade was not much different, as Matt's absenteeism remained high. But a change in the medical game plan helped this young fighter, who appears to be prevailing. Matt received a bone marrow transplant.

Although this restorative procedure is rigorous and risky, Matt endured it and several setbacks since with resilience. The feedback, fortunately, has been positive, both in the medical lab results and from a medical team at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh described as “cautiously optimistic.”

“They feel it went surprisingly well,” says Matt's father, Scott Wolfe.

“But, Matt likes school and wants to get back,” Scott adds. “He's ready to return to being a normal kid.”

The organizers of the Buffalo Township Community Day in Butler County have chosen to donate proceeds from this year's fundraiser to Matt and his family.

According to Betsy Olson, chair of the community day committee, “The school nurse lets us know if there is a student within the district who has experienced extensive medical problems or other hardships. If there is no one identified, we contribute to Freeport's Meals on Wheels and food bank.”

Matt's battle against lymphoma was known to many, and his recommendation to the festival's committee was readily accepted.

Olson is excited about the activities planned for Sundaywhen the 19th Buffalo Township Community Day is held at the Lernerville Speedway.

“There is no charge for parking or admittance,” Olson said. “But we will donate the proceeds from our Chinese auction to the Wolfe family.”

Olson invites community members to expand their wardrobes with custom-made T-shirts that will send a message of support and the profits from their sale to this family. Donations from area individuals, groups and businesses helped to fund production of the shirts, which include the names of these sponsors in their design.

It is hoped that Matt will be well enough to attend this township tradition that has adopted the motto “Unity in Community.”

Matt's mom, Sherri Wolfe, affirms this sentiment. “I just want everyone to know how grateful we are. The support of our community has helped so much — it means the world to us.”

With continued help, there is much hope that the world of this ninth-grader can be fully restored so he can get on with his life plans. Matt intends to use his summer to gain strength for the return to school.

As part of his exercise regimen, Matt hopes to perform many repetitions of his favorite upper body workout while seated in a new fishing boat with his grandfather this summer.

His family, friends and well-wishers from the community are unified in their hope that Matt's next report will be “How I spent my summer vacation fishing,” by 10th-grader, Matt Wolfe.

Diane Orris Acerni is a Leader Times correspondent.

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