Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — When 7-year-old Pratt Elementary student Skyla Dennis was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year, the Barker community rallied around her. The culmination of efforts to help Skyla’s mom, Beth Dennis, handle the expenses associated with medical treatment is a benefit set to take place Saturday at the Hartland Volunteer Fire Co. hall, 8945 Ridge Road, Gasport.
“People in Barker, once they know it’s one of their own, just come together,” said Julie Socie, a biology teacher at Barker Central School who is helping to set up the benefit. “It’s like family down here.”
Admission to the benefit is free; it runs from 1 to 7 p.m. Pasta dinners will be sold starting at 2 p.m. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6 to 12 years. Children 5 and younger eat for free. Tickets are available pre-sale and at the door.
A large Chinese basket auction will be held at 4:30 p.m. So far, the organizers have received more than 100 baskets and numerous gift certificates, Socie said.
A 50/50 split and a live auction will also be held. The door prize is valued at $3,000.
Several big-ticket items will be auctioned, including a 54-inch Halloween-themed quilt put together by Barker quilters Linda Fitch and Katie Dersarkission that’s valued at $250. Tickets for the quilt raffle are $5 each or three for $10.
Seventeen people are either going to cut their pony tails or shave their heads for Locks of Love and Bald for Bucks at the benefit; shears and clippers are set to come out at the fire hall around 3 p.m.
“They’ve already raised over $1,100 online and more in cash and check donations,” Socie said.
For Socie, getting involved to help Skyla and her mom, Beth Dennis, is personal. Her daughter, Abbigale, is a friend and classmate of Skyla’s, and she has become close friends with Beth since the ordeal began. She found out about Skyla’s situation when her daughter came home and told her that Skyla had “cancer.”
“It hit me really hard,” Socie said. “It could easily be my daughter.”
When Socie explained to Abbigale what was happening with Skyla, Abbigale volunteered to be a bone marrow donor, despite how painful it would be.
“Abbigale said, ‘I don’t care if it hurts, I’ll do anything to help my friend,’” she said.Contact reporter Michael Canfield at 439-9222, ext. 6246, or follow him on Twitter @MikeCanfield36.