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Community shows up in a big way for Evan Valentine

Provided photos: Bob Miller, the Murray town supervisor and a neighbor of the Valentine family, reads a letter from Diane Valentine thanking the community for its support the past month since her son Evan was diagnosed with leukemia.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 November 2018 at 8:15 am

600 buy dinners, 220 donate baskets at fundraiser

Evan Valentine makes a surprise visit to the Clarendon Rec Hall on Sunday for a fundraising dinner.

CLARENDON – There was a big turnout from the Holley community on Sunday for a spaghetti dinner and basket raffle to support Evan Valentine and his family.

Evan, 15, was diagnosed with leukemia on Oct. 19. He has completed his first round of chemotherapy. On Sunday morning, his cell counts were high enough where doctors encouraged him to leave the hospital and attend the fundraiser.

The parking lot at the Clarendon Rec Hall was nearly full before the doors opened for the fundraiser at 1 p.m. Inside there was a sea with people wearing orange T-shirts, many saying “Evan Strong.” There were about 600 dinner tickets sold, 160 pounds of pasta cooked “and trays and trays of meatballs,” said Trina Lorentz-Lang, a family friend.

The community also donated 220 baskets and 10 silent auction items. So far, 800 orange shirts have been printed by B&T Creations with all profits donated to Evan.

Local businesses and organizations that contributed to the dinner include Sam’s Diner, Jimmy Z’s, the Albion Running Club and many other community members, said Lorentz-Lang.

Sue Rowcliffe was instrumental in organizing the dinner and volunteers. Jennifer Morgan and Kerry Lonnen organized the basket raffle, and Troy Kingdollar arranged the use of the Clarendon Rec Hall, secured donated food for the benefit and spent several hours in the kitchen. Clarendon firefighters also cooked food and donated the space for the benefit.

“We literally have an army behind us,” Diane Valentine said in a letter read by family friend and neighbor, Bob Miller. “Without all of you, your kind words of support, your love, your prayers, all of this here tonight, we would be lost.  You have helped us more than you know. The doctors and staff at Golisano are second to none. We are so very fortunate to have such incredible health care so close to where we live.  A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting with Evan and I told him that a lot of people go through their entire lives and never know all the people they have touched. I told him that he has been given a gift because at 15 he definitely knows the people he has touched. You are a gift he will carry with him.”

Heather and Steve Kelley and their children attended the benefit on Sunday. Frank and Sharon Gurzynski are seated next to them.

The Valentine family – Neil, Evan and Diane – are pictured with Breanna Girgangaya, who helped out at the dinner. Many people also signed a board to support Evan.

The Clarendon Rec Hall was a busy place on Sunday for the benefit dinner.

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