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Saltlick family paying back kindness in multiple ways

| Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, 6:03 p.m.

Emma Marie Keller came into this world 12 weeks too soon in 2007 due to preeclampsia. Ryan and Chrissy Keller of Saltlick Township cared for their beautiful baby throughout her short life. She passed away in January 2008 from complications associated with her premature birth.

Having been on the receiving end of community generosity throughout that trying time in their lives, the Kellers have dedicated the past six years to paying back the kindness they received in multiple ways.

“During the five months that Emma spent in the hospital, so many people reached out to us and helped us, that even before she passed we had decided we would give back in some way,” Chrissy Keller said.

On Saturday, the Kellers are hosting the 6th Annual Emma Marie Keller Memorial Walk at the Cook Township Community Center in Stahlstown.

About 100 to 125 people participate in the event that raises approximately $5,000 for the Preeclampsia Foundation and the Emma Marie Keller Memorial Foundation, which provides support to families with children suffering from long-term illnesses.

“We wanted to help local families, so we began the new foundation,” Ryan Keller said. “The expense of having a child with long-term illnesses is unbelievable. We had a lot of family, churches, etc. send money to us to help with gas, food, parking, etc. Every day when we went to the mailbox, we would find a check or money in a card. The parking alone is expensive, without counting the gas money and food.

“Again, we wanted to help the local community,” he said.

The board members of the Emma Marie Keller Memorial Foundation will be introduced at the event and a review of what has been done with the donations from last year's walk will be given.

The event also raises awareness of preeclampsia, a disease that affects a pregnancy every six minutes in the U.S. This year's guest speakers are Bruce and Lisa Goodworth.

“Preeclampsia has forever affected their family as well,” Ryan Keller said.

Registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m., with the walk to follow at 10 a.m. Registration is $25, which includes a T-shirt.

“But anyone can walk for any donation,” Ryan Keller said.

The course at the Cook Township Community Center is 3 miles long for those able to make it the full length. Breakfast will be provided prior to the walk. A balloon release will follow the walk, along with light refreshments.

Keller said people do not have to walk to participate in the event.

“They are welcome to come and enjoy the event, music, Chinese auction and especially the balloon release,” he said.

JK Dance Factory/Absolute Karaoke will provide entertainment. There will be a fire truck for the kids to tour and they can dress as firemen.

The Chinese auction already has more than 30 items, including two Penguins tickets, four Altoona Curve tickets, an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites, multiple golf rounds, several restaurant gift certificates, and many new business donations, such as Car Clean Kit, and several haircuts.

If people cannot attend, but would like to donate, go to http://emkmemorial.blogspot.com or mail checks made payable to The Emma Marie Keller Memorial Foundation, 746 White Road, White, PA 15490.

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.

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