03/30/11 — Friendship leads neighbors to organize benefit for Abby

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Friendship leads neighbors to organize benefit for Abby

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 30, 2011 1:46 PM

Robin Coor Casey cried as she talked about the bravery and faith of 14-year-old Abby Keen of Grantham that a liver transplant will enable her to recover from primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare liver disease found in children.

Despite a deceptively healthy appearance, Abby, a freshman at Southern Wayne High School, has been told that a liver transplant is the only treatment that will help her. The surgery alone will cost a half million dollars, said her mother, Deon Keen.

Mrs. Casey, a family friend, was so moved by Abby's story that she and her 8-year-old daughter, Megan, decided they wanted to do something to help.

That desire has led to fundraising efforts statewide that will include a reverse drawing and silent auction April 8 at the Lane Tree Golf Club.

The event will start at 6:30 p.m and run until 10:30, with dinner and entertainment.

Cost will be $50 a ticket, which includes entry into a reverse drawing for a chance to win $3,000. Donations must be received by April 1. They may be mailed to Robin Coor Casey, 104 Quail Croft Drive, Goldsboro, NC 27534.

For more information or tickets contact Mrs. Casey at 738-0623 or send e-mail to robin.casey125@gmail.com or her sister, Gina Coor at 222-8444 or ginacoor@aol.com, or Tracy Keene at 222-8112. Tickets are also available at the Rib Hut in Wilson and at L&E Appliances on N.C. 111 South, owned by Mrs. Casey's husband, Eddie.

Mrs. Casey said no more than 300 tickets would be sold.

"Preliminary sales have been good, but could be better," she said. "We want to raise as much money as we can."

Megan competes in the Beauties and Beaus "natural" pageant system in which the contestants do not wear the make-up common to other pageants.

She has qualified for the state-level Beauties and Beaus pageant to be held May 20-21 in Raleigh, giving her and her mother an idea on how to raise money for Abby.

"With each pageant they choose a charity and you raise money for that particular charity," Mrs. Casey said. "I contacted the pageant director and told her about Abby's story and she chose Abby to be the charity for the whole state. So hopefully there will be little girls all over the state raising money for Abby."

Proceeds will to be presented at the pageant on May 21. Money raised will go to medical expenses only.

Mrs. Keen said she and Abby plan to attend both days of the pageant to cheer for Megan, who earlier in the month won the pageant in Pine Level.

"She is cheering Abby on so we have to return the favor," Mrs. Keen said.

Abby's surgery will be done at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh and at this point, the family has its bags packed until the call comes in.

"We are still waiting," Mrs. Keen said. "It all depends on a donor and someone giving that gift. It is a big gift."

Despite her sickness, Abby appears healthy and is still maintaining top grades in school. Because of that, some people have questioned why fundraising is going on, Mrs. Keen said.

Abby may look healthy but the transplant is vital, Mrs. Keen noted. In her case, complications make it necessary for the operation to take place as soon as possible.

In addition, anti-rejection drugs that will be needed after the operation cost $2,800 a month. Mrs. Keen, a widow, said she is trying to be optimistic, but that she and Abby know they face a long, uphill fight. Mrs. Casey said they won't be alone in that fight.

"This isn't something we are going to stop at after the pageant is over," she said. "We will continue to be a part of this until we can't think of any other way to raise money or until we get that liver."