WEST PITTSTON — Through all the struggles, Megan Lee has persevered. She fought cancer head on, and she won. Now she’s doing everything she can to give back.
Two years ago, Megan Lee’s youthful life was knocked off course. The then-13-year-old was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma prior to her eighth grade year at Wyoming Area. Ewing’s sarcoma is a type of cancer that occurs most often in and around the bones. Since being diagnosed, her mission has turned to giving back to those who helped her through the past two years.
Lee’s medical scans were officially clear this past October. In celebration of her remission, the West Pittston Moose Lodge 1207 reached out to her about hosting a party. With the help of Moose Junior Governor Doug Warabak and Barb Sherinski, the party featured food and beverages, and most of all, a Toys for Tots donation.
“Everyone wanted to help me in the past year and I have been grateful for that,” Lee said. “The Moose Lodge wanted to host something with me and I didn’t want anything in return because everyone helped me in the past.”
Since the lodge decided to have the party in early December, Lee had two requests: An Ugly Christmas Sweater Party and a Toys for Tots donation.
“It’s a seasonal thing,” she said. “A lot of kids are unfortunate to have a good Christmas. Everyone deserves to have something.”
Approximately 20 United States Marine Corps Reserve members, on behalf of the Toys for Tots Foundation, were on hand to accept the gifts and donations made from the celebration in Lee’s honor. There were basket raffles in the bar area of the Moose Lodge. By Lee’s request, all of the proceeds collected during the night will be donated to Toys for Tots.
Within the next week, the group will meet back at the Moose for a photo and a presentation of all the proceeds.
Toys for Toys Coordinator Staff Sgt. Louis Cortes, of the Wyoming Marine Wing Support Squadron, spoke about Lee’s perseverance through her ordeal. He thanked her for her selflessness.
“I cannot express enough what an honor it is to be in your presence,” Cortes said to Lee. “It is not every day you meet someone of your caliber — someone who expresses the ability to care. You have made a difference in so many people’s lives.”
The Marines presented Lee with the Commander’s Award for her hard work in helping the Toys for Tots Program.
“She’s the inspiration that brought us together here tonight,” Cortes said. “When I was made aware of the quest Megan had, I was inspired.”
Lee and her family also presented Cortes with a Christmas sweater-themed gift. Following those presentations, the West Pittston Moose Lodge presented Lee with a check for $500.
“It’s very heartwarming and I’m very appreciative of everyone,” Lee said. “I just want to continue to help other charities and reach out to other people that went through what I went through. I want to help as much as I can.”
Lee has been fortunate to benefit from fundraisers throughout the past two years. There have been dodgeball tournaments and talent shows at Wyoming Area that helped benefit Lee.
Wyoming Area junior Emilee Wanko has known Lee for many years. She’s friends with Lee’s brother, Brendan.
“It’s nice to see her doing this because of what she has been going through,” Wanko said. “It’s nice to see everyone coming out for her. She’s such a sweet girl and she’s always smiling. I’m glad that I could make it tonight.”
According to Warabak, this was one of the biggest events in the history of the West Pittston Moose. It was estimated more than 400 people were on hand for the event.
Lee is an active member of the Wyoming Area Key Club, along with other organizations in the school. She originally had plans to go to school for Culinary Arts when she graduates in three years, but those aspirations have changed because of her recent struggles.
“I’m leaning toward the medical field,” she said. “I learned a lot through this process.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick