Community comes together to support local family

(photo courtesy of Kim Estes) Dana Goebel aboard the Twin Valley Football Association float at the 2010 Elverson Halloween Parade.

When Dana Goebel was first diagnosed with breast cancer two and a half years ago, the community rallied around the mother of five who was so involved in the community.

Dana, who was the equipment manager for the Twin Valley Football Association (TVFA), battled through her breast cancer. But earlier this year, she received news that the cancer had metastasized to her brain. Again, the people of the Twin Valley area have come together to support the Goebel family, who have been so involved in the community.

Dana passed away July 23, but Twin Valley residents continue to show their love and support in big ways for the family as they deal with their loss. Fundraisers were launched to help alleviate the costs associated with the treatments, and then hospice, and finally funeral expenses, as well as to help support the Goebel children moving forward, so that the family doesn’t have to worry about financial burdens on top of emotional ones.

That’s why local realtor Joey Frey started the $100 X 100 Families campaign last month. The idea was to get 100 families, companies, organizations and other groups to give $100 to raise $10,000 for the family. The effort has really taken off.

All the proceeds go toward the Goebel Family Fund, an account through National Penn Bank that can only be used for the household and the children. The fund is set up so that anyone can walk into the Morgantown or Elverson branches and contribute at any time.

Frey initially got the idea for $100 X 100 Families from one of her friends. After getting some input from others, she decided to begin with social media.

On Friday, July 12, Frey said she “just thought it was time to put something in action,” so she posted her challenge on Facebook to get started.

“I was not sure how well it would take off. Within 12 hours, we were already up to $2,000, and I had people coming to my open house with checks and cash in hand. People were calling my husband’s cell phone.”

Frey said the community was eager to help, and people weren’t just giving one or two hundred dollars – some gave as much as $500. Several local churches called, having taken up their own offerings for the family.

By the following Monday at noon, less than three full days after she first posted the challenge on Facebook, she had already reached her $10,000 goal, and more was coming in.

The $100 X 100 Families campaign is only one of many fundraisers that community members have launched to support the family. There was a gift and food drive at Christmas started by Linette Foreman. In March there was a chicken barbecue at the Caernarvon Township building. Last month, McDonald’s donated a portion of its sales one night to the fund. These are only a few of the numerous efforts this tight-knit community has made to help one of its own families.

And the support has not been limited to financial help – local families have helped out with everyday life, cooking dinners, cleaning the house and even taking the kids on vacation with them.

The barbecue was spearheaded by Shawnmarie Gardner, Jess Basciano and Michelle Ressel, a breast cancer survivor herself. Gardner and Basciano are now helping organize a second barbecue at Livingood Park in Elverson Friday.

The event starts at 4 p.m. and will include a free concert from Irish band Belfast Connection at 6, as well as races for kids, games, prizes and pony rides. Those interested in going can reserve their meal by emailing sgardner@tvsd.org or by joining the event page on Facebook.

“If this were any one of my students’ families that needed it, I would hope that everybody would do the same thing, regardless of the family,” Gardner said. “And as a mom, I would hope that somebody would do that for my family if I were in that position.”

She added that the barbecue is also a way for everyone to begin to heal after this loss. “I think everybody has been sad for so long that this is a fun way for the whole community to come out, and start on a fresh page,” she said.

One of the people who donated to Frey’s campaign was Stephanie Colantuno, who got to know the family over the last year as her children became friends with the Goebel children.

“They’re just a wonderful family. You always want to reach out and do something when something happens to a family like this,” she said. “I was touched that Joey could organize this.”

More important than the money, though, is the way the community came together to turn this tragedy around, and support a family that has been so involved in the community themselves.

Frey summed up that sentiment, saying “It’s important everybody knows we’re here for the Goebel family.”

“I think we all would want someone to do that for us,” Frey said, tears coming to her face. “Treat people how you want to be treated.”

For more information on how to give or get involved with the fund, visit the “Goebel Family Fund” Facebook group.

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