06/07/14 — Hundreds turn out for "Love for Liam" event

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Hundreds turn out for "Love for Liam" event

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on June 7, 2014 10:34 PM

Several months ago, Brittney Rogers wept as she and her husband, Steve, received a devastating diagnosis.

Their son, Liam, had pontocerebellar hypoplasia.

"When we found out he had it, that was the lowest point in my life so far," Brittney said. "I remember getting the diagnosis and then reading research on it and crying hysterically as I learned more."

Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia, more commonly known as PCH, hinders the afflicted from having basic motor skills -- causing complications with walking, breathing, swallowing and eating -- and shortens the lifespan of those suffering from it.

There are six different types of PCH, most causing the child to die in infancy, while other forms allow him or her to live into childhood before they succumb to the condition.

Ever since, the young couple has struggled to keep up with mounting medical expenses associated with Liam's battle.

But then, the community stepped in.

The Meadow Lane Elementary School community -- Brittney is employed at the school -- was not about to let Brittney and Steve suffer alone.

It started with a bracelet sale.

Then, bumper stickers.

And Saturday, on the grounds of the school Brittney has missed countless hours of work at to stay by her 1-year-old's side, hundreds of people came together to let the Rogers' know just how much they were loved.

The "Love for Liam" fundraiser was held at Meadow Lane from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There was a yard sale and live music.

A book sale, carnival and silent auction unfolded.

And food was sold to the more than 1,000 people who kicked in a few dollars to help a struggling family focus on what matters most.

"I'm in awe of everything everyone has gotten together to do for our son," Brittney said. "Them taking the time out of their Saturday, out of time they could be spending with their own family, and using it to support my son means so much to me."

Steve was also overwhelmed.

"It really is a lot to take in," he said. "I think it speaks for itself, really."

Organized by Meadow Lane Title I curriculum facilitator Nicole Carter and fourth-grade teacher Emily West, the event saw support from everyone from students and faculty to local residents and businesses.

"We knew there was a need for this to happen," said Ann Hetrick, who was volunteering by selling "Love for Liam" T-shirts at the event. "The event grew from Meadow Lane out into the community and we are so proud to be a part of it."

Kirsten Stuber, who was helping with the shirt sale, said it gave her goosebumps -- despite the warm weather -- just thinking about it all.

And each time a Meadow Lane student ran up to hug Brittney, she was moved -- even if she was unable to give them what they really wanted, a glimpse of Liam who, due to the heat, was kept out of the sun until the community sang a song to mark his first birthday.

"It has been hard to find words to describe how grateful I really am for all of this," Brittney said.

Especially, now that the next phase of Liam's battle is looming.

The boy will return to the hospital for yet another surgery Monday.

And even though the hundreds who turned out in his honor won't be there in body to stand beside Brittney and Steve during the procedure, you could sense that their presence in the hearts of the Goldsboro family they wrapped their arms around this weekend will be felt -- always.