Local leaders flexed their charity muscles for neuromuscular disease - and went to jail for it.
York City Councilman Michael Helfrich and local business owner Charlotte Bergdoll were just two of more than 100 "jailbirds" who were locked up in the Valencia ballroom, which served as a makeshift jail on Thursday. The lockup participants "raised bail" from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. by asking for donations from family, friends and colleagues.
The event raised about $84,000 - almost $30,000 more than its goal amount - for the Muscular Dystrohpy Association. The money will go to York County families who are affected by muscular dystrophy, a blanket term for a range of diseases that weaken the muscles.
The MDA is a nonprofit health agency that provides support for individuals with muscular dystrophy through research, health care and advocacy. The organization has been doing fundraisers like this in York County for more than 20 years, said Joe Alfano, executive director of the its Central Pennsylvania chapter.
Little girl, big heart: Anastasia Corp of Penn Township doesn't look like she has muscular dystrophy.
But the playful, confident 10-year-old, wearing thin-rimmed glasses, a stylish dress and curls in her hair, has been the South Central Pennsylvania Goodwill Ambassador for the MDA since 2005, when she was diagnosed with ocular myasthenia gravis.
The autoimmune disease weakened the muscles around her eyes, which was apparent when she was 2½ years old. She began to bump into things, and her eyes began to droop and move in opposite directions. It took the Corp family five months to finally get a diagnosis. When Anastasia was 4, she had her thymus gland - a gland in the neck that helps with immunity - removed, putting her disease in remission after three years.
As an ambassador for the organization, she tells her story and lets people know where their donation money goes. She speaks about her disease in a tone well beyond her years.
"I want to help other people because I am in remission," she said. "And there is hope out there. I want them to see how it feels.
The Park Hills Elementary fourth-grader will celebrate her fourth year in remission on Aug. 12.
Her mother, Karen Corp, said MDA helped make Anastasia's story a happy one. The organization covered what health insurance couldn't when it came to her medical expenses, she said.
"We wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for MDA," she said. "We'd probably still be looking for a doctor to tell us what was wrong with her."
- Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.