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Memorial donations for Cranberry girl, 5, directed to nonprofit groups

| Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A Cranberry-based volunteer organization named the Surman family as its Inspirational Family for 2010, as their toddler daughter struggled to cope with the devastating after-effects of a brain injury.

After the death of 5-year-old Camryn Surman on Tuesday, the family is seeking to give back.

The Surman family has asked that instead of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Cranberry Uniting Playground (CUP) organization or Pennies From Heaven — both of which are nonprofit, volunteer organizations locally run.

Camryn, the daughter of Eric and Laura Surman of Cranberry, was injured on July 20, 2009, after the lid of a toy box inside her Cranberry home fell onto her neck, cutting off her oxygen supply.

After the accident, Camryn required constant care, needing a respirator to help her breathe and having only limited movement.

“We would like to thank our friends, family, as well as the community, for the tremendous love and support provided since our daughter, Camryn, suffered a severe brain injury on July 20, 2009,” the family said in a statement.

The community's response in helping the family in the aftermath of the tragedy was “absolutely amazing,” said family friend Diane Murray, who nominated the Surmans for the CUP organization's Inspirational Family award.

“It was just a tragic accident, and I think that touches a lot of people's hearts,” Murray of Pine, a board member with Pennies from Heaven.

Cranberry CUP each year raises money for a family that needs financial and other support.

Pennies From Heaven, which partners with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, helps parents cover the costs to stay with their hospitalized children.

When naming the Surmans as their inspirational family, Cranberry CUP said the Surmans “will receive immediate financial assistance so they can focus on providing the aggressive therapy Camryn needs to achieve and maintain a better quality of life.”

A lawsuit filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court by the couple against Target, from which Laura Surman purchased the toy trunk online, was settled in 2011. Details of the settlement are sealed.

In 2010, the CUP raised $125,000, and proceeds went to the Surmans, for scholarships and other causes.

“It was just a senseless accident that took that child and ruined her life,” Murray said. “It tugs at everybody's heart. They're a great family, and I think when things like this happen, people want to help.”

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or

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