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First Plea (more individual/intimate): By now you may or may not be aware that Bella is on a brainy kind of creative team thing that competes called “Odyssey of the Mind.”  Well, they get together and work on a collaborative project while sharpening their creative skills through things called “spontaneous’.”  They (the Penn Hills team that is comprised of 7 girls in grades 4 & 5) competed in the regional competition a few weeks ago.  This is the moment that ends a school years worth of meeting, practicing, and working very hard. Unless you win…which they did.  It was an all day affair that ended up with a bunch of us eating at Olive Garden sometime after 3 am. (or at least it felt that way).  Joe and Bella melted emotionally into some childlike dysphoria and both came down with colds after a train wreck of a Sunday recovery.  That victory also lead to states.

Fortunately, this year states were held on this side of the commonwealth, at the same location as the regionals.  Of course they had to be there at 7:30 am as (Joe’s team had won the regional competition as well) Joe had to compete at 8:00 or something like that.  So, after being up at 5:30…yes am. Joe AND Bella competed throughout the morning, took some time off during the afternoon and visited Uncle Doug/Aunt Jackie and their only younger cousin, and then went back to sit in a gym that was 1,000 degrees (according to Rachel) for just over 6 days (according to Rachel) to find out that although Joe’s team unfortunately did not…Bella’s team WON!  State Champions (we all know that if only one of them was going to win it had better be Bella)!  Here is a very competitive girl (to say the least) who finally got to sit a top of the victory podium and stare down so lovingly at all of those who fell short of her glorious and most humble achievements!  I was at a volleyball tournament all day and received the news and immediately teared up.  I reminded Rachel that there was to be no late night Olive Garden trip this time, everyone needed to rest.  It was a lovely time as I joined them, we got home just before midnight.

So that’s it.  Oh wait…it’s not?  There’s more?  Yes, oh yes there is.  You see by winning states they move on again.  This time they straight skip nationals (not sure why…not asking) and go directly to WORLDS!!!  Damascus?  Rome?  Tokyo?  Paris?  Moscow?  Sydney?  Oh, they are in the US this year?  Orlando?  Seattle?  LA?  New York?  Chicago?  Pittsburgh?  No, no, no, no, no.  Sit down…worlds are in IOWA!!!  You can’t beat that with a stick!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand that’s where you come in.  It’s not cheap, it’s actually quite expensive to go to Worlds (I mean, it’s Worlds after all).  So, you say, just don’t go.  Yes, I would like you to tell that to this girl who has been through everything she has been through.  No…I don’t think that not going is an option.  So, there is a GoFundMe page attached.  It is made for you to not just help us (the entire team, not just Bella) get there.  It’s there for you to help her continue this amazing journey of competing, creating, performing…forgetting.  It’s a necessary time of moving on and focusing on her in a positive way.  It is really quite beautiful.  You literally become part of the team.  You are a welcomed addition.  We need you, we welcome you, we (in advance) thank you.

**Now this 2nd plea is only for former Penn Hills residents**

As you may or may not know, the Penn Hills community is under a lot of stress.  Some of you have moved on and never looked back.  Others have moved on and are here all the time.  Yet others of you come back once or twice a year.  Similarly, your opinion of your hometown varies in as many if not more ways.  No matter who you are or what your opinion is of how things are at this time two things are true.  1.  The losses of Burger King and Taco Bell were as great as any. & 2. This is your hometown.  Nothing will ever change the fact that this is where you came from.   There are so many good things happening here.  This, is one of the great ones.  So, please, consider supporting these girls and their families.  Financially get on board and share this with your friends saying, “THIS is MY hometown.  THIS is Penn Hills.”  Share this page and more importantly the GoFundMe link with your contacts and let these girls know that you are fully supporting them!  Again, thank YOU in advance.

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