Already a princess within her family, on Saturday received a crown.
After she and her family arrived at on a fire truck for the opening ceremony of the Cranberry CUP softball tournament, Miss Pittsburgh, Stephanie Scarci, placed one of her own rhinestone-encrusted tiaras on the little girl’s head.
Cheyannia, of Evans City, also was given a sash that said “Miss Cranberry CUP 2012.”
Cheyannia’s mother, Deb Plaisted, had until that point planned to give a speech before the cheering relatives, friends and neighbors gathered to support the family at the opening ceremony, which was hosted by KDKA’s Jeff Verszyla.
But as Scarci placed the tiara on Cheyannia’s head, Plaisted found she was too choked up to go on.
In December, Cheyannia, a former student at Connoquenessing Valley Elementary in the , was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor on her brain stem.
With symptoms that mimic a stroke, she has trouble moving her body and also with speech. About 150 to 200 children every year are diagnosed with the rare tumor, called a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, which has had little advancement in treatment over the last three decades, Plaisted said.
On Friday, Cheyannia received a wheelchair so her family can move her around more easily.
The 8-year-old, who her mom describes as “sassy” and “outspoken,” and her family are the a nonprofit dedicated to helping local families.
Each summer, the organization, now in its 13th year, holds a golf outing as well as its signature fundraiser,
The tournament, which kicked off Saturday,
The games will be played throughout the weekend at Community Park, and at the school fields.
Plaisted, who also is mother to two older children, Sammi, 17, and Shayne, 22, said she was amazed at being chosen as this year’s “inspirational” family as well as at taking part in the opening ceremony.
During a Cranberry CUP kickoff party held Friday at the e, Plaisted said Chey was thrilled to meet a handful of Disney princesses, including mermaid Ariel, the one character she didn’t get to meet during a trip earlier this year to Disney World.
Plaisted said her hope is to use the money raised through the Cranberry CUP to take Cheyannia to a clinic in Houston, Tex. for experimental therapy to slow the growth of the tumor.
Plaisted said she has been in touch with the father of British girl diagnosed with tumor similar to Cheyannia's. With treatment at the Texas clinic, the girl's tumor has not grown any larger.
Valerie Pierce, who along with her husband, Vance, is close friends with the family, said their hope is to see Cheyannia take part in next year's softball tournament.
“Our goal is to be here next year cheering on the next inspirational family and watching Cheyannia play,” she said.
Check back with Cranberry Patch for more Cranberry CUP coverage—including video of Cheyannia's arrival at the opening ceremony. Are you taking part in the tournament? Share your photos with readers by clicking the "Upload Photos and Video" button on this article.