Who: Born and raised in Old Forge, Lauren Belko has an outgoing, generous, caring and determined nature. The 31-year-old graduate of Old Forge High School has a business mind as well, having earned a bachelor’s degree in the field from Penn State University and a master’s degree in business administration concentrating on operations management from University of Scranton. She put that education to work in supply chain at Vaxserve but also was focused on planning her wedding to fiance and “love of her life,” Sean Madden, when she got news that changed her life’s direction in September. After finding a lump and swelling on her neck, Belko went through tests, doctor’s visits and surgery before learning she has stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Belko is undergoing eight rounds of chemotherapy, receiving treatment every two weeks, and will follow that with five days of radiation each week for three weeks. She fights daily but remains positive and focused on her wedding, still smiling about what she has in her life — which includes parents John and Janice Belko, sister Chrissy Belko, and dogs Lily and Coco — an effort that has taught her family about being a fighter.
What/when/where: A pasta dinner fundraiser will take place Sunday, Jan. 26, from noon to 6 p.m. at the Cellar at Cusumano, 432 S. Main St., Old Forge. Tickets cost $10, and guests also can check out basket raffles and a $20 raffle wall. Additionally, Anytime Fitness, 405 S. Main St., Old Forge, will hold the “Belko Brave” fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 22, from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. A $10 donation includes admission to all classes: Silver Sneakers, 9 to 9:45 a.m.; Zumba, 10 to 11 a.m.; and Cardio Mix, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Why: Proceeds from the fundraisers will go toward Belko’s mounting medical expenses.
In her own words: “‘No one fights alone’ is our family mantra since Lauren got diagnosed. When we say family, we don’t only mean blood, we mean our town of Old Forge and neighboring communities. The support from everyone has been amazing. It’s a reminder to all of us that a small act of kindness lets you see the good in a bad situation.” — Chrissy Belko, sister
Caitlin Heaney West is the content editor for Access NEPA and oversees the Early Access blog in addition to working as a copy editor and staff writer for The Times-Tribune. An award-winning journalist, she is a summa cum laude graduate of Shippensburg University and also earned a master’s degree from Marywood University. Caitlin joined the Times-Shamrock family in 2009 and lives in Scranton. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9100 x5107; or @cheaneywest