A SMALL group of volunteers from the Carroll County 4-H Rabbit Club gathered at the Carroll County Agricultural Center on Thursday evening to make pizzas. That might not seem like an important event, but this was no ordinary pizza-making party.
It was a fund-raiser for fellow 4-H member Heidi Meek and her family to help pay the overwhelming medical bills they have incurred and those they will face in the months ahead as Heidi is treated for a brain aneurysm. The club received about 400 orders for pizzas, which cost between $3.50 and $4.50 each.
As adult and youth volunteers formed an assembly line to make cheese, pepperoni and sausage pizzas, they talked of 9-year-old Heidi's progress. She is at home and doing remarkably well.
"She's really doing good," her mother, Lisa Meek, reported when reached by telephone. Then she shared the story of Heidi's ordeal.
Heidi fell to the floor with a seizure at Runnymede Elementary School during a physical education class almost two months ago. She was unconscious for four minutes. She was taken to Carroll County General Hospital, where a CAT scan showed hemorrhaging in the brain. Mrs. Meek said she knew it was serious when she was asked if the family wanted a chaplain.
Heidi immediately was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital and placed in the pediatric intensive care unit. "That first night she was not allowed to have any painkillers," Mrs. Meek said. "She was drifting in and out of consciousness and screaming with extreme head pain."
The doctors had difficulty locating the cause of the hemorrhaging. Finally, they discovered the aneurysm. During the testing, Heidi suffered what doctors believe could have been a small stroke, leaving her partially paralyzed on one side of her face.
Heidi was given morphine, but it did not kill all the pain. For days she needed ice packs for her head and neck, and material was draped over her eyes to block the light. On Jan. 4, her doctor performed the eight-hour surgery to remove the aneurysm.
"They got it all," Mrs. Meek said. "Titanium plates screwed in her head now hold her skull together."
Christmas had come and gone with Heidi in the hospital. "Santa" brought Heidi a gift in the hospital, and after he left she told her mom, "Jesus sent Santa here to see me."
For the first time, Mrs. Meek had to hear one of her children discuss death.
"It was hard to hear," she said. "Heidi asked the doctor if he had ever lost anyone during surgery, and he was honest with her, saying, 'Yes, but not with what you have.' "
Then she asked him if he prayed, and when he said yes, she asked him to pray for her before the surgery.
Heidi's dad, Aubrey Meek Sr., and her brothers, Aubrey and Matthew, offered constant prayers and support. Heidi went home Jan. 11. Her activities have been limited, and she still is not allowed to do schoolwork.
Mrs. Meek said that Heidi still has a "crooked smile." The doctors had told the family it would take at least three months for her to open her eye, but Mrs. Meek proudly reported that Heidi already has it open.
One of Heidi's passions is Dolly Parton and her music. She has all of the singer's records, posters and even a "Dolly" doll. The other day, Heidi began belting out the Dolly Parton song "I Will Always Love You."
"Heidi," her exasperated brothers complained, but Mrs. Meek said she told them, "Leave her be. It's music to my ears!"
Meanwhile, the 4-H Rabbit Club plans to make more pizzas. Said club leader Kevin Brown, "We hope to have 500 pizza orders."
Before the night's end, the group had made more than 200. Working around weather forecasts and future 4-H events, Mr. Brown hammered out a plan to meet again. As the volunteer workers wiped tables clean and closed bags of pepperoni, sausage and cheese, almost all agreed to return.
For more information on the Carroll County 4-H Rabbit Club or the pizza fund-raiser, call Mr. Brown at 751-0470.
Bull & Oyster Roast
The Optimist Club of Westminster is sponsoring a Bull & Oyster Roast, to be held Feb. 17 at Reese Fire Hall, from 7 p.m. to midnight.
The event will include a variety of foods, including a "deluxe" roast and oysters on the half-shell. Music will be performed by the band The Stinger. Games will be featured.
Tickets for this event cost $21 per person and can be reserved by calling Dale Lippy at 876-7993 or Al Liebno at 876-9811.
The Optimist Club of Westminster is a community service organization. It honored four youths for their contributions to Westminster. The youths, Dawn Rebecca Groom, Joshua Heckathorn, Pamela Homiak and Daniel Schmidt, were recognized at a youth appreciation dinner Jan. 14 at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.
Last week I reported on the need the Carroll County Choral Arts Society has for new vocalists to perform in a May 7 concert, Mozart's "Requiem." The concert will be held at Westminster United Methodist Church.
I requested that interested people contact Patricia Rouzer, but her phone number was incorrectly listed. Interested vocalists may reach Ms. Rouzer at 840-9220.