For many who attended the Cranberry CUP softball tournament in August, the sight of Cheyannia Marburger being crowned with a tiara as “Little Miss Cranberry Cup” was the highlight of the day.
“Chey really touched the entire CUP community,” said CUP founder Cathy Cortazzo. “I know that the Cranberry CUP community really made that weekend special for her.”
Diagnosed last December with an rare inoperable tumor on her brain stem, Cheyannia, of Evans City, died Friday morning. She was 8 years old.
Along with her family, Cheyannia was chosen as the a nonprofit dedicated to helping local families.
Prior to the start of this year’s softball tournament, the CUP’s signature fundraiser, a Cranberry fire truck carried Cheyannia, her family and her close family friends onto the field to resounding applause.
During a speech honoring Cheyannia, Miss Pittsburgh Stephanie Scarci crowned the little girl with one of her own rhinestone-studded tiaras and gave her sash that read “Little Miss Cranberry CUP 2012.”
Cheyannia was delighted.
Cheyannia was equally excited to meet a handful of Disney princesses, including mermaid Ariel, the day before at the Cranberry CUP kickoff party.
“It wasn’t about the finances, it was the princesses and the Little Miss Cranberry and the applause and feeling so special that I think the family will be able to hold on to,” said Cortazzo. “So I thank the community for that.”
Cheyannia’s mom, Deb Plaisted described her daughter “sassy” and “outspoken.”
Although her symptoms, which mimicked a stroke, caused her to be in a wheelchair, Cheyannia never lost her spark, Plaisted said. Prior to her illness, Cheyannia went to Connoquenessing Valley Elementary.
CVE Principal DeeAnn Graham remembers Cheyannia as a caring student.
"Her sweet smile was noticed the moment she walked into our school as a kindergartener," she said. "She made friends with ease as all who met her recognized her kind heart. The teachers, support staff and most importantly, her classmates will miss her caring ways.
Seneca Valley spokeswoman Linda Andreassi also offered her condolences on behalf of the district.
"The Seneca Valley School District has lost a cherished member of our community," she said. "Losing a loved one at any age is difficult; to lose a child is painfully heartbreaking. We grieve for her family and friends at this time and extend our sincere condolences."
Cheyannia also enjoyed photography, scrap-booking and crafting. She loved animals, fishing, sled riding and playing with her friends.
She also was a beloved sister to her older siblings, Sammi and Shayne, and was extremely close to family friends Val and Vance Pierce, affectionately known at “The Vaps.” In late August, she became “Aunt Chey” when Sammi gave birth to a daughter.
The family had hoped to take Cheyannia to Texas for experimental therapy to slow the growth of the tumor. When she spoke to Patch in August, Plaisted emphasized the need for more research into Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, the type of rare tumor Cheyannia was diagnosed with.
“To have people actually realize what to watch for with the signs and symptoms, it is a must to get it out there,” she said.
Friends and relatives will be received at the Kinsey-Volz Funeral Home, 114 West Spring Street, Zelienople, on Monday Oct. 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. and on Tuesday Oct. 2, from 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will follow at 8 p.m. with Marilyn Kinney Chaplin of Evergreen Nursing Center.
Memorial donations may be made in her honor to St. Jude's Brain Stem Glioma, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
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