Kiera Chirdon Gave Back with Music
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Kiera Chirdon wanted to give back to an organization that supported her fight against cancer. Before her death, Kiera wanted to gather a few friends for a charity concert, one that has now grown into much more. "She never thought that the dream could be this big," said Kiera's grandmother, Cathy Chirdon. "This has turned into a big event and she is smiling from heaven, I just know it." At 9 years old, Kiera was diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. "For 7 1/2 years she battled with the cancer," Chirdon said. Not long after her diagnosis, Kiera picked up a violin for the first time. Her grandmother said the instrument became her passion. "Playing that violin made her feel normal. It gave her comfort and joy,It was a very big blessing that that was in her life to help her with the pain and suffering." Kiera took her violin on trips for treatment so she could practice. Chirdon said the Brian Morden Foundation helped the family with travel expenses and supported Kiera from the very beginning. The organization assists families and patients in honor of Brian Morden, who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 19. "They provided gas cards when we had to travel to Pittsburgh and to Philadelphia and to Cincinnati, They gave her Brian bags, which were gift of happiness for her, they brought smiles to her face." Chirdon said Kiera wanted to make an impact using her love for music. "In the last year of her life, she wanted to have a concert to benefit the Brian Morden Foundation to give back,She became too ill to do this." Kiera passed away near the end of her 10th-grade year, but her dream lived on. Next month the Brian Morden Foundation is holding her charity concert at Altoona�s Mishler Theatre. "We are definitely proud to honor her for all that she's done, and you get a chance to see what she loved to do as a kid," said Dawn Morden, president of the Brian Morden Foundation. The Altoona Symphony Orchestra and newly formed Altoona Youth Orchestra will perform holiday melodies alongside eight of Kiera's closest friends. "Her friends were very honored to be able to play at the concert in her memory,Her violin teacher, Mr. Roger Shinkler, is going to be playing and using Kiera's violin." Morden said a long list of sponsors helped pay for the symphony's performance. Proceeds from the concert will be donated to a research study and help the foundation support other cancer kids the way they supported Kiera. "We're just so thrilled to be able to take advantage in some ways of that wish of hers to benefit other kids," Morden said. "Everybody needs that kind of help, we can't do it alone." Chirdon said Kiera will still be part of a concert she envisioned. "There will be aspects of Kiera in the concert and you'll just have to come and see,It will be very emotional and Kiera will be with us. Definitely." Kiera's dream will be fulfilled Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Mishler Theatre in Altoona. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for kids. Morden said childhood cancer survivors and the families of kids who lost their lives to cancer will be present. She hopes more people can understand what patients go through and are encouraged to donate.