Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Community pulls together to benefit conjoined twins

by on May 10, 2014 10:59 AM

When you talk about the community coming together to help a family with the challenge of raising newborn conjoined twins, you’re talking one big village.

People around the globe have offered moral and financial support to Michelle Van Horne and Kody Stancombe, of Indiana, and their 30-day-old boys, Andrew and Garrett.

“Kody and I think it’s amazing to see people from all over the country who are donating,” Van Horne said Friday. “They don’t live anywhere near to us — they are completely, total strangers.”

Family and friends in the Indiana area have tried to rally help for the young family, seeking contributions for their expenses and other items such as diapers needed for the boys.

Locally, a gift card drive has generated donations sent by mail to the family.

“It has been great!” organizer Tammy Curry messaged the Gazette on Friday. “She has received tons of Pampers, stuffed animals, baby wipes, etc. Some of my friends sent their cards directly to them before we hooked up with the Gazette to have them mailed there.”

A few gifts also have come in for Van Horne and Stancombe’s older son, Riley, who turns 2 this month, she said.

[PHOTO: Brian Dickson, left, and Ben Ferra cooked hotdogs Thursday at Gazette Printers as part of a fundraiser for Michelle Van Horne and Kody Stancombe, who works at the printer. (Tom Peel/Gazette photo)]

But the family’s story — published first locally, then in regional and national media — spread virally on the Internet and has captured the attention of people worldwide.

An online donation center, where donors may send cash by credit card or Pay Pal, was set up by Van Horne’s sister with a goal of $2,000.

This morning, the page at the Youcaring.com website, abbreviated at http://ow.ly/wF6X7, showed 75 pledges totaling more than $6,000 have been logged.

Many donors signed their names, some gave anonymously, and many left comments for the family.

“Praying for your family and precious babies,” wrote S. Jackson, who donated $143.

A donation of $50 came from the Michael and Tracy Adams family, of Keller, Texas.

Donors from Boston, California and Michigan weighed in with donations and best wishes.

A donor identified only as Shoba is arguably the most distant supporter.

“Just a message to the parents, Michelle and Kody: I read your story from across the world — in Asia, Singapore. Your two twin boys are beautiful and I’m so happy they have each other. I really hope that they will be able to lead healthy lives.”

Shoba pledged $50.

Van Horne said Friday her relatives are planning a benefit spaghetti dinner with July 19 as the target date, but haven’t selected a location. Several possible sites have been contacted and are checking their schedules, Van Horne said.

Kody Stancombe’s co-workers at his workplace, Gazette Printers commercial printing plant along Indian Springs Road in White Township, donated to a “Kody’s Kids” fundraising event Thursday. Employees at the plant and at The Indiana Gazette, both owned by Indiana Printing and Publishing Co., paid “a dollar a dip” to dine on covered-dish lunches served at both locations.

The boys turn 1 month old today.

“They are doing well,” Van Horne said. The twins are joined from their chest to their belly button, and share their liver and one strong heart.

“They’re breathing, they’re eating, perfectly normally,” she said.



Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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