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Family to hold fundraiser for Mount Airy resident fighting cancer

When Brian Taylor, of Mount Airy, complained to his mother of a head cold last summer, the family had no way of knowing that the cause was far more severe than a simple sinus infection.

After months of worsening symptoms and several doctor visits, Taylor, 30, was diagnosed with brain cancer Thanksgiving Day after MRI testing at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.

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"Cancer does not run in the family," said Brian's mother, Marilyn Edmonds. "This is an odd thing, since his step-father died from brain cancer but there is no [blood] relationship."

Rather than give in to despair, Brian has maintained his sense of humor, Edmonds said. In a way, his fortitude sparked the same in his family, who has organized a fundraiser to help support him in his time of need.

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The family — with the help of Edmonds' church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 7255 Ridge Road in Mount Airy — are prepping for the Brian Scott Taylor Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction, set to take place March 11 at the church.

The first dinner/auction will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., while the second will follow from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., said Cathy Taylor, Brian's older sister. A resident of Alaska, she was visiting her family for the holiday but decided to stay in Mount Airy after learning of the diagnosis.

The food is being donated by Brian's uncle, Lonnie Taylor, who owns a Ledo Pizza in Prince Frederick, and the family and church members are in the process of collecting donated items and services from local businesses and talented professionals in the greater Mount Airy area to be auctioned at the event, Cathy said.

"This will include quilts, four seats for a [Baltimore Orioles] game, vehicle spa packages, woodworking, jewelry, stained glass — just a variety of things," she said. "I first asked my mom's church to help since I haven't lived here in 19 years, and they said 'yes.' If businesses say 'no' that's OK and if they say 'yes,' that's totally appreciated."

Attendees will also enjoy live music performed by local artists, including Just for Fun, and Jason Knight, a long-time friend of Brian's, Cathy Taylor said.

"The two bands are local and well known," she said. "They have offered their services to provide an ambience to the evening."

Tickets for the early dinner/auction cost $15 for adults, $10 for children, and families can buy a package deal for $60. Tickets for the later show, which runs for three hours versus two, cost a flat rate of $20. Tickets will not be offered at the door and must be purchased in advance by March 4, Cathy said.

Since his diagnosis, Brian has completed both radiation and chemotherapy treatment, undergoing his last session Feb. 11, Edmonds said. Though insured, his medical bills are "unbelievably high," Cathy said, as his policy includes a $10,000 deductible each year.

"We hit that [amount] between November and December and already hit that this year," she said.

Brian's sister took it upon herself to write a letter to the insurance agency, and there is a possibility that Brian will not be charged for the most recent batch of 21 chemotherapy pills, which cost $6,000, Edmonds said.

The church is capable of holding 200 people per dinner, and the family is hoping to sell out, Cathy said. If all goes well during the auctions, her hope is to raise enough to cover at least one of the deductibles, she said.

This is far from the end of the battle for Brian, though. With chemotherapy and radiation complete, he must now wait five weeks before undergoing another MRI to ascertain the extent to which the treatment affected the tumor, which at this point, due to its location near the brain stem, the doctors are unsure whether it is benign or malignant, Edmonds said.

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While the effects of the treatment have been severe and rapid, Cathy mirrored her mother's sentiments, and said it is remarkable how well her brother is handling the diagnosis.

"I feel like my brother is a very strong person, and positive and his fantastic sense of humor has helped him," she said.

After the diagnosis, Cathy said, she encouraged Brian to begin a strict diet, replete with healthy nutrients and nearly devoid of sugar.

"Brian told me, 'If anyone asks me what I learned from my experience, it's that my sister can cook,'" she said.

Those interested in attending may contact Cathy Taylor at 281-704-0410, but any member of the family is also capable of selling tickets, she said.

Spring Fever Coffee House

Once again, the Piney Run Nature Center is encouraging residents of the greater Freedom area — and anyone else interested in putting the recent cold and inclement weather out of their minds — to visit the park, this time with a night of traditional Celtic music and folklore.

The park will be holding its annual Spring Fever Coffee House from 7 to 9 p.m. March 18, during which the nature center will be transformed into a European-style cafe, said Max Bukowitz, park naturalist and planner of the event. The event is geared for those ages 12 and older.

It is being sponsored by the Piney Run Recreation and Conservation Council, which consists of nature center members who work to enhance the services offered to visitors of the park, Bukowitz said.

This event has been held for at least 10 years, and will feature the Whirligigs, a local band formed by Ken Koons, a photographer with the Carroll County Times.

"They perform traditional Celtic music and make all their instruments homemade," Bukowitz said. "Plus, they tell the tales that are behind the music; they are really fabulous and it ends up being a delightful evening, almost like a private concert."

Tickets cost $20 a person, and the cost of admission includes coffee and dessert, she said. Additionally, the park will not be charging its usual admission for the event, she said.

"For what you're getting, this is a bargain, I think," Bukowitz said.

All funds raised will be used to support the park's efforts, including offering college scholarships, holding its seasonal camps, and other educational programs, Bukowitz said. Though the event is identified as a fundraiser, they aren't doing this purely for the "money-making", she said.

"It's such a delightful event, we want to keep it going, and any publicity is good publicity," Bukowitz said. "This is more a cozy intimate type of occasion — usually around 35 people — which is just the right amount."

Since seating is limited due to the size of the nature center and the park's desire to retain the comfortable appeal of the event, Bukowitz said, she encourages those interested in attending to sign up early.

"Space is definitely limited," she said. "That's part of the charm; it's not standing room only; this is so everyone can see, have a good seat and a good time."

For more information regarding the Spring Fever Cabin House and other events held at the park, visit www.ccgovernment.carr.org/ccg/recpark/pineyrun or call 410-795-6043.

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Piney Run Nature Center is at 30 Martz Road in Sykesville.

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Wiley Hayes covers the South Carroll area. He can be reached via email at wileyhayes@gmail.com or by phone at 443-286-1606.

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