02/21/11 — More than $10,000 raised for transplant

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More than $10,000 raised for transplant

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 21, 2011 1:46 PM

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The $10,800 raised for Grantham School student Abby Keen included an anonymous donation of $6,500 and $2,500 provided by Mary Ann Futrell, third from left, through a program sponsored by Monsanto. From left are Abby, Scott Pitts of Monsanto, Mrs. Futrell and Bob Pleasants, also of Monsanto and former director of the Wayne County Extension Service.

GRANTHAM -- More than $10,000, including an anonymous donation of $6,500, was raised Friday night at Grantham School for Abby Keen, 14, who is on the waiting list for a liver transplant.

Another $2,500 was donated by Mary Ann Futrell who had been selected to receive the money through Monsanto to be used for the charity of her choice.

Mrs. Futrell said what was remarkable was that the call telling her she had been selected came just hours after she read an article about Abby in the News-Argus.

The two donations and money raised Friday night at the school totaled $10,800.

The money comes at a time when the Grantham community is planning a communitywide fundraiser for Abby, a freshman at Southern Wayne High School at Dudley. The goal is to raise $50,000. A planning meeting for the fundraiser was held over the weekend and a date, time and location are expected to be announced soon, said Sue Hill, one of the organizers.

Abby suffers from primary sclerosing cholangitis, a very rare liver disease found in children and that is normally seen in men 35 to 50. She has had to give up sports and dance. Her father died from liver cancer six years ago.

The family has been told that a liver transplant is the only treatment that is going to help her. The surgery will be performed at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.

At this point, the family has its bags packed and is just waiting for the call.

"She is stable. Physically she is holding her own. We are waiting for the call at any minute," said her mother Deon Keen. "Once we get the call, we have six hours to get there. We have eight or nine people from the local airport to physicians, people who own planes who have volunteered to fly us. We have a call down list and everybody has been wonderful."

The $2,500 was presented Friday night at Grantham School during half-time of a student-faculty basketball game. Proceeds from T-shirt and bracelets sales and a 50-50 drawing also were donated to the family.

Ivy Kelly, eighth-grader at Grantham School, wrote and performed a song in Abby's honor.

"I have known her since I was a little kid," Ivy said. "I have not known her well, but we took dance together, so we have known each other since like forever. I was already asked to sing a song and no one knew her favorite song so I decided to write a song.

"My idea behind the song was to have all of the eight-graders write down their opinions and favorite things about Abby. That is how I came up with the song. She's nice, she dresses well. She is an inspiration, uplifting. She is always happy. She is always willing to help."

"I think it is fabulous," Mrs. Keen said. "It is awesome. It touches my heart. The song was Abby to a T and the girls captured the essence of Abby. That is just how she is."

For Abby, the attention is just too amazing.

"It is just really amazing to see how many people really care when there comes a time like this and to see everybody out here and supporting me was just amazing," she said. "I was totally surprised when I saw them go out there and say what they said and sang the song.

"I was shocked. I never really knew how I had impacted people's lives out here. It's just amazing. I just thought I was just another girl here at school. It is amazing to see that I really did leave an impact. I know I have this problem, but I just try to go on and live my life as if I didn't have a problem and just do everything that I can do."

The money Mrs. Futrell received was provided by Monsanto through its America's Farmers Grow Communities program, said Scott Pitts of Richlands, territory sales manager with Monsanto. Mrs. Futrell donated it to the Children's Organ Transplant Association on Abby's behalf.

"It is a program we launched not quite a year ago to highlight the role that farmers play in each of our communities," he said. "So much of the money (farmers) spend goes back to other places like our home office back in St. Louis.

"We know St. Louis is a long way from Grantham, and we started this program as a way to give back to those communities so much that the farmers give to us by purchasing our products."

"Saying thank you seem to be so small, but I don't have any other words to say but thank you and God bless everybody," Mrs. Keen said.