Dorseyville student organizes toy drive at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Faced with a rare skeletal disorder, Dorseyville Middle School student Shane Funk gave up playing football and wrestling at age 10 and focused instead on baseball and cross-country.
He also decided to focus on helping others less fortunate and started a toy drive for patients at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
“It feels amazing to help,” said Shane, now 13 and an eighth-grader. “Kids in Children's Hospital deal with so much that they deserve a smile. Giving them toys is the least I can do for what they deal with every day.”
Shane was diagnosed in 2013 with Klippel-Feil Syndrome, a disorder characterized by abnormal fusion of two or more bones of the spinal column within the neck. It affects one in every 42,000 people.
“It didn't stop Shane from living his life,” said Amy Funk, Shane's mother. “Some days are better than others but that doesn't take the smile off of his face. He pushes through the pain and is an inspiration to all.”
Amy Funk said because KFS is so rare, there is no foundation to raise money, conduct research or raise awareness.
This is the second year that Shane and his family have conducted the toy drive. In 2015, they sold T-shirts to raise money, and this past August, the teen worked the bingo at Guyasuta Days, after which the festival committee donated half of its bingo proceeds for Shane to purchase more toys.
“It's a wonderful thing that he does,” said Jackie Lugara, festival committee member and past president for 10 years. “It's so nice to see the younger kids helping.”
Amy Funk said the bingo drew a “wonderful turnout” from the community.
“Shane had people bring him toys and stop by to donate money,” she said.
Stephanie Colaberardino, manager of the Child Life Department at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in Lawrenceville, said her group is “amazed at the continuous drive young teens such as Shane have to support our patients and families at Children's Hospital.
“His donation will benefit our patients by allowing them to enjoy activities which will make their stay as comforting as possible in the hospital.”
Shane and his family delivered the haul last week, including two Power Wheels bikes and enough games and stuffed animals to fill about five bins.
“The reason I want to do these fundraisers is because it brings awareness to KFS,” Shane said. “It's rare but people battle it every day.”
Anyone interested in donating to the toy drive can email Amy Funk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at email@example.com.