Lehighton community to come together Sunday to help a former Indians athlete

Lehighton to hold event to help Kayla Heckman, a 2011 graduate battling leukemia.

Lehighton softball coach Greg Poremba says sports is not only about winning and losing.

"Sports are about people," he said.

That's why the benefit softball game he has helped to arrange on Sunday afternoon at Christman Field in Franklin Township is not so much a sporting event in Poremba's eyes as it is people coming together to help other people.

A benefit game which will feature Lehighton alumni against the current high school and summer players will raise funds for Kayla Heckman and her family.

Heckman, 20, is a 2011 Lehighton graduate and former softball player who is battling Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.

While she continues her fight, the medical bills are piling up and proceeds from Sunday's event will help to defray those costs as well as support the overall fight against leukemia

"Sports are great and they're fun and teach a lot of things," Poremba, who is also an Orefield Middle School teacher, said. "But this is for a more important cause than a normal sporting event."

Poremba describes Heckman as "a funny kid who likes to laugh and have fun. Her attitude has been really positive through this whole thing. She's a fighter."

The event is set to run from noon to 5 p.m. and will include appearances by prominent area softball stars Jenn Shellhammer and Alex MacLean.

Shellhammer, a member of the Lehigh Valley Softball Hall of Fame, was a star pitcher at Central Catholic and at both Radford and Maryland. She is currently the head coach at Lehigh-Carbon Community College.

MacLean had a stellar pitching career at both Northampton High School and Bucknell University.

"They're not going to actually pitch a game, but we'll have them pitch to anyone who wants to donate to the cause to try their luck against them," Poremba said. "They're both great young ladies who are always happy to help and kids can learn a lot from them."

In addition, Under the Radar promotions (Todd Schafer and Craig Waters) will provide memorabilia to run a silent auction. There will also be food, drinks and other goodies for sale.

And, there will also be a few special presentations to Kayla.

Lehighton remains one of those tight-communities where people come together in a time of need and Poremba is thankful for the support this event has received. His team is looking forward to it.

"Most of the girls on our team don't know Kayla," he said. "But this is a teachable moment about what's important in life. Most of our players aren't going to play major college softball, but they're always going to be around people. They can learn from something like this."

Poremba said the credit for arranging the event should go to Amber and Butch Rodgers and Jeff Smith.

"It should be a fun time for this kid," Poremba said. "We just want to help her out."

If you can't make it but still want to help, donations can be sent to: Kayla Heckman, 92 Highland Hills Road, Lehighton, Pa. 18235.






Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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