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 firstname.lastname@example.org