Local women form Ray of Hope to help children

| Saturday, July 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A desire to help children is the motivation behind the new nonprofit organization Ray of Hope.

Heather Black of Acme and Deb Detar of Mill Run recently formed Ray of Hope for the purpose of helping local children and children-related organizations.

“I just really wanted to do something for the children,” Black said.

Ray of Hope will hold its first fundraising event — Concert for the Cure — on Saturday at the Scottdale Fireman's Club in Scottdale.

The event will benefit the Dravet Syndrome Foundation. Dravet syndrome, also known as severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy, is a rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy. Initial seizures are most often prolonged events, and in the second year of life, other seizure types begin to emerge. Individuals with Dravet syndrome face a higher incidence of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy and have associated conditions, which include but are not limited to: behavioral and developmental delays, movement and balance issues, orthopedic conditions, chronic infections, sensory integration disorders and disruptions of the autonomic nervous system.

“We were inspired to do this fundraiser by a young girl Deb knows in South Connellsville who has Dravet syndrome,” Black said.

The event will feature local country singer and Froggy Idol winner Kortney Jean along with Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Toby Keith tribute artists. A disc jockey will play in between the artists.

“All three impersonators are amazing. They look and sound just like them. I don't know how they do it. The Toby Keith tribute artist actually walked on the American Country Music Awards, and they thought it was Toby Keith,” Black said.

Jean will do a 45-minute acoustic set with Ben Auer.

“I'll be performing covers. There will be a little something for everyone, from Miranda Lambert to Guns N' Roses. I put a little twist of my own to every song,” she said. “I am honored to be sharing the stage with Tim McGraw, Toby Keith and Kenny Chesney impersonators. I will be singing a song or two with ‘Tim McGraw.'”

Jean of Bullskin Township is happy to be donating her time and talent to the event.

“I'm donating my time because I think it's for a good cause, and more research needs to be done. I'm sad that it affects babies, and the outcome isn't good,” she said. “Dravet syndrome is a debilitating disease. Dravet syndrome is a life-changing diagnosis. I'm happy to help out.”

Tickets for the event are $25 a person, or $40 a couple, and include entertainment and a buffet-style dinner along with first drink. First drink is ticket-holder's choice of beer, soda, water or coffee. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner. The show will start at 6:30 p.m.

A Chinese auction will be held with several items available, including baskets, Pirate tickets, passes to Brooke's Block Party and the Pittsburgh Children's Museum.

Black said approximately 15 volunteers are helping with the event.

“We couldn't do any of this without the support of our family and friends,” she said.

Black said they are looking for people interested in helping to run the Facebook page and with future fundraisers. Anyone interested in volunteering with the new organization may call Black at 724-984-1131.

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.

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