Walk a mile in their shoes

Seanna Beech likes to help oth­ers in need. Her latest cause — re­lent­less fund-rais­ing that amassed $600 for the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­ation — was spurred in part by a per­son­al con­nec­tion to the dis­ease.

Cean­na Beech, (right) 7, her sis­ter Kylie, 5, and uncle Jim Starns set up a table in front of WaWa on Fri­day Septem­ber 9. The 7 year-old has been selling candy and brace­lets for the last 3 weeks in an ef­fort to raise money for the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­ation.

Smil­ing as she walked on Rhawn Street in Holmes­burg, hard­work­ing Seanna Beech, who’s only 7, pulled a pink plastic wag­on along the side­walk. 

The spunky young­ster had filled the wag­on with a hand­made card­board sign, brace­lets she’d made with her moth­er and aunt, and a bevy of purple rib­bons. And now she was mov­ing on through the neigh­bor­hood, turn­ing down an of­fer of help with her pas­tel-colored bur­den on wheels. 

ldquo;No, it’s OK, I al­ways carry it,” she said con­fid­ently. 

On this Fri­day in early Septem­ber, Seanna, joined by her sis­ter Kylie, 5, and their uncle James Star­nes, pre­pared to set up shop at a loc­al Wawa con­veni­ence store to raise money for the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­ation.

In pre­par­a­tion for the fol­low­ing day’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, held Sept. 10 at Cit­izens Bank Park in South Philly, Seanna sold her hand­made goods and some candy to col­lect cash for the non-profit or­gan­iz­a­tion and its pro­grams that aid people with Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

For the pre­vi­ous three weeks, the two little girls had joined their uncle dur­ing long hours of fund-rais­ing, mo­tiv­ated to help find the cure for a dis­ease — a com­mon form of de­men­tia — that af­fects a mem­ber of their fam­ily. 

“I star­ted to do it a few weeks ago after church and it star­ted to get fun,” Seanna said while care­fully lift­ing the wheels of the wag­on over a crack in the side­walk.  

The young­ster, a second-grader at St. Jos­aphat’s Ukrain­i­an Cath­ol­ic School in May­fair, said she’s happy to sit out­side and talk to pass­ersby if it can help cure her great-grand­moth­er of Alzheimer’s dis­ease. 

She’s the moth­er of the girls’ great-uncle, Star­nes. Al­though she is able to dis­cuss her past in de­tail, he said, she of­ten struggles to re­mem­ber the names of re­l­at­ives who come to vis­it, or even has dif­fi­culty re­call­ing the events of that very day.

ldquo;Some­times you have to give her din­ner again, even right after she ate,” he ex­plained. “She gets sort of frus­trated.”

ldquo;And some­times you’ll come over and she will be like, ‘I don’t know you,’” Seanna said, agree­ing with her uncle. 

Dur­ing the af­ter­noon at the Wawa store, the young en­tre­pren­eur and act­iv­ist hap­pily chat­ted with pat­rons while pro­mot­ing her cause. The fam­ily ob­tained per­mis­sion to set up shop at the store be­cause Wawa is a cor­por­ate spon­sor of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. 

“Would you like to make a dona­tion to help fight Alzheimer’s?” asked the little girl as a man waved her off and headed in­to the store.

Many oth­er people had been far more giv­ing. In fact, after those three weeks of fund-rais­ing, Si­enna had raised more than $600 that she planned to de­liv­er to rep­res­ent­at­ives of the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­ation dur­ing the walk.

ldquo;They do all the work, see? I just stand here,” James Star­nes said as he watched the two girls from the side­lines. “They’ve been do­ing great. They have made a bunch of friends down here, that’s for sure.” ••

For more in­form­a­tion or to donate to the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­ation, call 1-800-272-3900 or vis­it www.alz.org/desjsepa  

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com  

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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