Making a Difference | A "Hearty" Christmas light display
PERRY COUNTY —
A “Hearty” Christmas Light Display in Perry County is Making a Difference for a girl who has “half a heart”.
It's becoming a popular form of fundraising - donations to view Christmas light displays.
And a Perry County family is continuing its tradition of having a collection box for anyone enjoying their light show.
13 year old Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer of Duncannon, Perry County has an infectious smile. She says she loves seeing others smile, too.
And you wouldn't think you'd see her smiling often, considering the medical issues she's had since birth.
Lorelei was born with one side of her heart underdeveloped - which led to 3 open heart surgeries by age three.
We met in September of 2014 when she was recognized at the PA Renaissance Faire for a project she started for other children like her.
Lorelei says, "Heart Hugs started out as - after my third open heart surgery when I was 5 - my lungs collapsed and filled with fluid. So it was so hard to breath. So they brought in my Pop-pop's pillow and it was too big, so after that I decided to make smaller ones for other kids."
I caught back up with Lorelei, her mom, younger brother and service dog Mandu at the home of Kevin and Pat Kolak.
The Elliottsburg couple has been putting up Christmas lights and collecting money to help Perry County residents for several years now.
This year they chose Lorelei to receive the donations from the Kolak Christmas Lights.
A year that Lorelei's mom Chelle says has been a particularly tough one for her daughter.
Chelle says they have been having issues of Lorelei's heart just stopping.
She also has problems with bleeding and bruising.
"We couldn't figure out whether she was having seizures or heart issues or both and finally on Easter Sunday, everything literally just stopped." Chelle says.
Kevin Kolak says, "When we heard the story of Lorelei, Pat and I looked at each other and said, this is the one."
The Kolak's even have a radio station to sync the lights to music - but Kevin doesn't know exactly how many lights are in his display.
He says he has about 6,000 lights on the arches, but he added computerized pixel lights which can provide millions of colors.
The first year they just had a collection box with no radio and they collected $1,800. Last year, they raised $10,500!
And the collection to go to Lorelei is expected to be even more, because Kevin says each year they've raised more money than the year before.
But the Kolaks say any amount will be put to good use.
"If we didn't get a dollar, I'm still going to have these lights out here alright. It's just nice that the people recognize that there is somebody in need that they could help and they contribute", says Kevin.
You can view the Kolak Christmas Lights Sunday through Thursday 5:30 - 10:00 pm. Friday & Saturday 5:30 - 10:30 pm. from now through December 31st.
Contributions can be mailed to 1976 Shermans Valley Road, Elliottsburg, PA 17024
Please make any checks payable to Kevin Kolak and write Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer in the memo line.
Kevin will even help folks who want to start or improve their own light show.
As for Lorelei's service dog, Mandu - she got him a year and a half ago from Susquehanna Service Dogs. Mandu helps with opening doors and picking up things and gives Lorelei deep pressure therapy by standing on her,
Lorelei says Mandu can also sense when her heart's about to stop - something she says he wasn't trained for!