Joe Clark initially didn’t think his fundraising idea would grow that large.
However, with a little help from family and friends, dozens of people of all ages crowded around the pool area at the Meadville Area Recreation Complex on Saturday for a craft fair that raised a total of $3,396 to benefit Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh as well as the MARC. The proceeds are to be split between the two groups.
Joe, 13, a seventh-grader at Meadville Area Middle School, has glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. He goes to Children’s Hospitals Hematology and Oncology Center every few weeks for treatment.
“I just wanted to give back to the hospital and I wanted to keep the MARC from going out of business because I like to go skating,” he said of why he launched his effort.
The craft show idea came out of Joe’s treatment and recovery following an operation on the tumor.
In December, Joe began working with an occupational therapist, Vikki Zook of the Visiting Nurse Association of Crawford County. They were looking for a way to rebuild Joe’s motor skills following the operation.
“I asked him if he liked to do crafts and he said ‘Yes,’ so I suggested why don’t we do crafts,” Zook said.
The two worked on a number of projects to help rebuild his dexterity with Joe painting a variety of canvases, wooden trucks and bird houses.
“We were crazy crafters,” Zook said.
As the items began to pile up, Joe thought it would be a good idea to sell them to benefit both the hospital and the MARC.
“We had boxes of stuff all over the living room,” Lori Clark, Joe’s mother, said with a laugh.
In addition to the craft show, Saturday’s benefit featured a silent auction of autographed items, a pick-a-prize auction with more than 40 items to help generate funds, as well as free swim time in the MARC pool from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
“It really got a lot bigger than I expected,” Joe said. “I was expecting only 10 or 12 things for the auction and we had 43.”
Renee Ray of Meadville, a neighbor of the Clarks, is one of the those who turned out for the event buying a couple of the items.
“We’ve been supportive since Day One,” Ray said of why she turned out.
Woodworker Tony Lemanski of Saegertown set up a sales display to help out.
“I saw it in the paper and I like to do stuff like this,” he said. “I’ve helped out others like Special Olympics.”
To help draw a crowd, the Clarks pulled out all the stops that they could imagine.
“We called lot of friends, put it out on Facebook, the Tribune, used word of mouth, you name it,” Lori said of trying to spread the word about Saturday’s fundraiser.
“It helped, too, that we knew a business owner Jean Martin,” Joe said. Joe is best friends with Jacob Martin, who is a son of Jean and Jim Martin, the owners of Bayshore Homes of Meadville.
Jean Martin said she’s amazed by Joe’s continued good spirits in light of his serious illness.
“I think this is such an awe-inspiring gesture on Joseph’s part,” Martin wrote in an email to the Tribune. “He is fighting for his life and all he wants to do is give back.”
Lori and Mike Clark, too, are inspired by their son’s indomitable spirit despite what he’s going through.
“He goes to Children’s Hospital every three weeks for therapy,” Lori said. “He has chemotherapy at home every six weeks. He takes six pills each morning and an additional two at night. If he’s not feeling well, he may take up to nine pills in the morning.
“He’s just amazing to us,” she said.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.
You can donate
Those who wish to donate to the Joe Clark fundraiser to benefit Children’s Hospital Hematology and Oncology Center and the Meadville Area Recreation Complex are asked to so by Friday. To help, contact Lori Clark at (814) 673-0724.