Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Event to benefit Rural Valley girl

by on July 12, 2013 10:50 AM

Area residents may be familiar with the monthly car cruise that’s held outside the Indiana Mall monthly, but this Saturday, there will be a twist for a good cause before the regular event.

Prior to the car cruise in the Sears parking lot, a fun run will be held to benefit Abby Bowser, a 13-year-old Rural Valley girl who has been diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis.

The disease, PSC for short, is an incurable liver disease, according to Bowser’s mother, Sharyn Anthony. According to the Mayo Clinic, the disease is progressive, and eventually leads to liver failure.

The only course of action at this point is a liver transplant.

Before finding out about the disease, Anthony said, Abby was struggling in different ways.

“She had been sleeping in all the time,” she said, and noted that her grades in school had not been up to par as of late.

“I had to hire a tutor, she was having a lot of trouble in school.”

A routine annual doctor’s visit in April 2012 showed the source of her troubles.

“Her doctor noticed she was a little jaundiced,” Anthony said. “Her liver and spleen were enlarged and she was sent for an ultrasound.”

Soon they called Anthony and told her and Abby to pack a bag, that they would be in the hospital for a week or more. That week, Anthony was pulled aside to be told of her daughter’s condition.

Most recently, Abby spent March through May of this year in the hospital as a result of unusual bleeding. During that time, Anthony said, she received blood transfusions and suffered from a high level of ammonia in her body.

Since that visit, things have been looking up.

“Abby is doing absolutely wonderful since we got out of the hospital,” Anthony said, noting that her daughter has gained 3 pounds since then, making her weigh a total of 84 pounds.

The bleeding during that prolonged hospital stay is what prompted her to be added to a list of children that need liver transplants. These children, Anthony explained, are put on the list based on a Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score.

“The higher the score is, that person would get the available liver first,” she said. “You have no idea when you’re going to get that call.”

Because the call could come at any time, the family has canceled a trip provided through the Make a Wish Foundation to Orlando, Fla. Instead, the foundation has helped Abby to get a swimming pool, soon to be constructed.

Fundraisers like the one being held this weekend, Anthony said, are a big help to the family.

“It takes the financial burden off of all of us,” she said. “It helps getting us back and forth to Pittsburgh, to stay down there. It’s nice to not have to worry about stuff like that.”

Taking care of Abby is the family’s No. 1 priority.

For the fun run, the event’s flier asks attendees to get their Mustangs, Camaros, Challengers and other vintage cars out. Cars and trucks will meet in front of the Sears Auto Center at 3 p.m. to receive instructions, and clues that they’ll follow throughout the run.

Normally, event organizer Paul Weston said, the cruise brings in about 120 cars monthly.

“It’s the thing to do,” Weston said. “People get together with their old cars and talk about their cars and old memories.”

For updates on Abby’s condition, visit the Abby’s Angels-PSC Facebook page, where Abby’s mom, aunt, cousin and Abby herself regularly post.

Donations to help with medical costs can be made to the First National Bank in Rural Valley under the name Abby’s Angels Benefit.

Ellen Matis is the digital media coordinator and a staff writer at The Indiana Gazette. She is the person behind the Gazette's social media. A 2012 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ellen has a degree in journalism and public relations. Follow her on Twitter, @EllenMatis, or email her at
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