Lylahpalooza, an annual kid’s fest and fundraiser, was held at the Crawford County Museum from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30. The fundraiser featured various attracti0ns including a silent auction, bouncy house, petting zoo, the Bat Mobile, and more.
Lylahpalooza started out as a way to help B.J. and Leslie Harris who had a daughter named Delylah. She was born with a congenital heart defect and passed away in fall 2013. The fundraiser then evolved into an annual event for the community to come together and raise money for ill children.
“It allows us to give back to the community, keep our daughter’s memory alive, and then we sell these T-shirts,” B.J. Harris, Delylah’s father, said. “The T-shirts are probably the biggest piece of the fundraiser, honestly. We get a $100 sponsorship to be on the back of it, people love them … there’s different styles from every year, my wife designs them. So people collect them and they keep them. What we’ve instructed everybody to do is as their traveling around the world to take a piece of her with you … so she’s been all over the world with the T-shirts.”
Jackson Williams and Jacob Murray were the two recipients of this year’s fundraiser. Williams has Alper’s-Huttenlocher disease, a terminal illness with an average life span of four to five years after diagnosis. Williams is currently stable at home with hearing aids and a continuous feeding tube. Murray had leukemia and after several chemotherapy treatments, is now at home with a feeding tube working his way back to health.
“This will be the fifth year I think we’ve done it,” Harris said. “… It turned into a kid’s festival and it’s just an opportunity for us to give money back to kids and families who have kids who have severe illnesses, currently getting treatment oftentimes. We usually try to get two or three families that we can give as much money as we possibly can to.”
Harris said although it is emotionally draining on his wife, Leslie, they hope to hold the fundraiser every year because seeing kids have fun makes up for the hard work put into it. He said Leslie raised $4,000 in an afternoon just by posting on Facebook.
“… We know from experience when you’re down and out and somebody gives you a check for $4,000 it’ll change your life, so that’s what we’re trying to do,” Harris said.
There was a $5 fee for each child to partake in all of the attractions offered. Bryce Ramsey, age three, said his favorite attraction was the horses at the petting zoo and the bouncy house.
“This is really neat,” Suzanne Ramsey, Pittsburg local, said. “It is great for the kids. My kid has not stopped bouncing since we got here, so I think this is a great activity, it gets a lot of people together; it’s really neat …We kind of knew about the little girl who had passed away, Lylah, we live down the street from her. So we had kind of known this was going on, we just had never made it the years before.”