Make-A-Wish campaign brings in more than $5,000 during first day

PUNXSUTAWNEY —The Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia chapter’s “Light Up a Child’s Life” week-long wish campaign set forth Monday with day one’s fund-raising total equaling nearly enough to grant two wishes.

The foundation, which grants once-in-a-lifetime experiences — such as vacations, celebrity meetings and shopping sprees — to children facing life-threatening illnesses, ages two-and-a-half to 18, calculates the cost of a wish as $3,400.

According to regional office assistant Kayla Danch, the day, which began at Ragley’s True Value Hardware and concluded at the Pantall Hotel, drew in $5,475.20, only $1,300 away from a second wish, and was one of the “best starts” the chapter has had in a long time, “if not ever.”

“People have been calling and stopping in throughout the entire day,” she said. “Thank you to everyone for donating. It’s just great to have the support of the local community.”

The campaign, aired live on WPXZ-FM 104.1, featured three Wish Kids, including two from Ohio, sharing their experiences on-air.

The chapter will additionally campaign all week to grant a wish in honor of Patti Lellock, who has worked for Make-A-Wish for the past 10 years and is currently facing Devic’s Disease. As of Monday, the chapter had raised $200.

In addition to Wish Kids and “celebrity” benefactor Mayor James Wehrle, who was the first to make a donation Monday, the kick-off was also attended by a local five-year-old humanitarian who helps make wishes come true, one quarter at a time.

Ty Caylor, who has been collecting quarters since he was three, is perhaps better known around town as the “Quarter Kid,” or, as Josh Widdowson, WPXZ-FM 104.1 news director, announced him: “Little Ty the quarter guy.”

The youngster raises money to, he said, “help sick kids.” Last year, he collected more than $1,100, according to his mother Andrea Caylor.

In the past, Ty collected his charitable contributions by selling toys he had outgrown at a garage sale and receiving rolls of quarters for his birthday.

Of course, Ty is always accepting donations.

“This time of year he just goes up and asks people,” Caylor said. “People know him as the quarter kid. Anywhere we go now, people just give him quarters.”

Campaign week, Caylor said, is something that Ty looks forward to all year long, getting even more excited about it than Christmas.

Day one of the campaign was sort of like Christmas to Ty, as he was gifted with a surprise visit from his hero and friend, Punxsutawney native and Cincinnati Reds Minor League Player of the Year Devin Mesoraco, who presented the SS.C.D. kindergartener with not only an autographed baseball cap, but also a bag of quarters.