The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

March 24, 2013

Person of the Week: Netting funds for autism: 3 girls challenge Tomahawks to volleyball game

JOHNSTOWN — The goal of three Forest Hills High School volleyball players is to defeat autism.

Lakin Stiffler, Keri Ondrejik and Brianna Neff, all juniors, went all out to accomplish their quest by inviting the Johnstown Tomahawks to play a benefit game against them and their teammates Tuesday at the high school.

The game was a huge success, raising more than $4,100 with donations still arriving, Keri said. Additional events such as dress-down days are being planned to raise additional funds, Keri said.

The money will go toward the autism program at Alternative Community Resource Program, ACRP, in Johnstown.

All three can’t say enough good things about the Tomahawks for getting involved in their project.

“I feel the Tomahawks are community-minded,” Keri said. “They were just as willing as we thought they would be to help us with this project.”

The girls said Jean Desrocher and Whitney Pappas, both front office personnel for the Tomahawks, were fantastic.

“We could not have done it without them,” Keri said.

The three also appreciated the support of the Tomahawks players, fellow members of their volleyball teams, coaches from the high school and middle school, members of the middle school girls volleyball team, their parents, and the entire school and community for supporting the event.

The three invited six children with autism to help them kick off the event and plan their team’s strategy for the three games that were held.

Keri, who has been working with autistic children at Forest Hills through a school program, said she wanted the crowd to see beyond the disabilities of the children.

“I did not see a disability,” she said while working with the children. “I looked more into who the child was as a person.”

Brianna said they felt that ACRP was one of many worthwhile organizations that the community would be glad to support.

“It was awesome to see all these people supporting our cause,” she said about the huge turnout at the game.

Lakin said she worked with a family last summer who has an autistic son.

“I just loved him and wanted him to be involved in this program,” she said.

She said they both walked together to the center of the gymnasium floor to place a piece of the autism puzzle together before the games started.

“This summer, all three of us are planning to volunteer with ACRP’s summer camp and spend time with the children,” Lakin said.

For their efforts to fight autism, the three are the Persons of the Week.

Brian Nagle, autism services director for ACRP, said the three did a wonderful job.

“For a senior project, it was just fantastic,” he said. “We are grateful to them, the Forest Hills volleyball team, Tomahawks and all the businesses that supported the event.

“The Tomahawks helping like they did showed that they are a great organization.”

He said the funds raised will go toward helping many children and families.

 Jodi Stiffler, Lakin’s mother, said the entire school and community were amazing in their support. The Tomahawks, too, were fantastic, she said.

“They (players) were excited to be there,” she said. “They spent a lot of time with the children, signing autographs and posing for photographs with them.”

Chopper, the Tomahawks mascot, also was present.

The Forest Hills team won two of the three games.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • foust_25 Teen shot in Oakhurst

    A 16-year-old New Jersey boy was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center on Thursday after being shot three times in the Oakhurst section of Johnstown.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Audit: City overspent by $700G in 2013

    Legacy costs contributed significantly to the city of Johnstown coming up $689,000 short in its core services funding during 2013.

    July 24, 2014

  • Kuzma, jonathan Guilty plea in hammer death

    The Johnstown man who authorities said killed his father with a hammer last year pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal homicide, authorities said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • quecreek rescue Events to mark anniversary of Quecreek rescue

    When word spread that nine Quecreek miners were trapped underground in July 2002, Bill Arnold’s dairy farm quickly became the rescue effort’s ground zero.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Huger, Stephen Accused Hornerstown shooter will stand trial

    A Johnstown man will stand trial in connection with a July 12 shooting in the Hornerstown section of the city.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Board names Zahorchak’s successor

    The Greater Johnstown school board at a special meeting Thursday named a superintendent to replace the retiring superintendent, rehired its last business manager and approved other administrative appointments.

    July 24, 2014

  • Pasquerilla, Mark Pasquerilla recognized as arts patron

    First lady Susan Corbett announced Thursday from the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pa., that Mark Pasquerilla of Johnstown has earned the Patron Award from the 2014 Governor’s Awards for the Arts.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ebensburg gets ready to party

    Party down with a shutdown.
    Downtown Shutdown, a street party featuring music and food, will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday in downtown Ebensburg.

    July 24, 2014

  • ROTARY Local Rotary Club earns recognition

    The Rotary Club of Johnstown was named Outstanding Large Club of the Year in District 7330, which serves 42 Rotary Clubs in seven counties in southwest Pennsylvania, at the Rotary District 7330 and District 7300 Joint Conference that was held June 26 through 29 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kara Baumgardner ‘I’m helping other people’: Forest Hills freshman donates regularly to Locks of Love

    Summerhill resident Kara Baumgardner has cut her hair a total of four times in the past five years.
    Each time, she has chopped off 10 to 12 inches for donation to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that makes wigs for those 21 and younger who have lost their hair due to medical conditions.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads