CHAMPLAIN — Shawn McCambridge knew something wasn’t quite right when his niece, Amelia Brennock, walked in the door last November.
The child was normally eager to greet his golden retriever, Rudy, when she came to visit relatives at the home in Ellenburg.
“She didn’t run and see the dog the very first day she came,” McCambridge said.
An annual checkup three weeks earlier had given Amelia a clean bill of health.
But then, in Ellenburg, “she just woke up with a fever, and then it just never went away over the weekend, and we thought she was getting dehydrated so we brought her over to CVPH (Medical Center),” said mother Jennifer Brennock.”
At the Plattsburgh hospital, the family learned Amelia’s condition was more severe than they had thought. But with no pediatric oncologist available, the staff was unable to fully diagnose it.
Amelia was transferred by ambulance to the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Westchester County, where the 9-year-old is still being treated today.
Amelia, who lives in Carmel, located in Putnam County, took a brief break from treatment over the weekend. She was guest of honor at the “A Day for Amelia” fundraiser held Saturday afternoon at Twin Bridges Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1418 in Champlain.
At least 200 guests gathered to welcome her as she returned to the area almost a year after her diagnosis.
The event featured a chicken dinner, music and a raffle with numerous items and gift certificates donated by local residents and businesses.
Both the Ridgerunners and Adirondack Riders motorcycle clubs donated hundreds of dollars, while student members of the Northern Adirondack Central School FFA helped with food service at the event.
“I think it was nice,” Amelia said about the gathering.
By late afternoon, donations for her and family totaled about $4,100.
A SPECIAL MEMORY
Amelia’s treatment will be a roughly three-year process, said Jennifer Brennock, who grew up in Ellenburg Depot.
Still undergoing active chemotherapy, the child is moving toward a maintenance period, when she will begin a schedule of low-dose treatments twice a month.
“If the cancer stays away during that time, then they consider it gone,” Brennock said.
Amelia’s mom had been hesitant about the fundraiser at first, but family friend Danielle Coon, who organized it, said she had insisted that they hold it.
“When Amelia’s an adult and she looks back, I want her to remember all the people who loved her — and not the sickness and the doctors and the nurses,” Coon said.
‘ROOTS STILL HERE’
Coon and Brennock were classmates at Northern Adirondack Central School, and Coon gathered other members of the class to help organize the event.
McCambridge said seeing so many North Country residents gather to support Amelia and her family spoke to the charity of the region.
“Your roots are still here, and you can move miles away or countries away, but the people who care about you most are still close to home,” he said.
HOW TO HELP
To make a donation to help with the costs of Amelia Brennock's medical treatment, contact Brenda Brown at (904)303-8664 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Danielle Fuller at 563-5358 or email@example.com; or Stephanie Winner at 593-4879 or stephanieLW89@yahoo.com.