Benny Strong: ANCHOR life + fitness rallies in support of local family
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
On Nov. 17, 2019, Kelly and Dan Pin of Kennett Square discovered that their two-and-a-half-year-old son Benjamin had a high fever and severe abdominal pains, and took him to the emergency room at the A.I. Children's Hospital in Wilmington, where their son was admitted the following day.
After extensive blood work and a bone marrow biopsy, Benjamin, known as “Benny,” was diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia on Nov. 21. Commonly known as B-Cell ALL, it is an aggressive type of leukemia that occurs when too many B-cell immature white blood cells are found in the bone marrow and blood.
While the overall prognosis for Benny is very good -- about 98 percent of children with B-Cell ALL go into remission within weeks after starting treatment and 90 percent of them can be cured – Kelly approaches her son’s treatment not with a long-range view, but a day-to-day approach.
“If it happens to be a good day, we have to take it in because we don't know what tomorrow holds,” she said. “The side effects of chemo are pretty intense, and they're all listed as high and low risk. It has become a balancing act between the high and low risks, and both the joy and wisdom you need to fight this disease.
“You have to be alert and you have to accept and you have to be able to live in both of those.”
While the primary angels of Benny Pin have been the presence of his parents, his five-year-old sister Amelia, and extended members of his family, there has been a growing number of supporting angels who have also lent love and support. On Nov. 27, Benny’s aunt Colleen Fida created a GoFundMe account to help defray the Pin's medical costs, and as of last week, the fund had raised over $26,000. In addition, news of the youngster's ongoing treatment has been shared in #BennyStrong and on the Caring Bridge website.
On Feb. 8, the heroic story of Benny Pin and his challenge to overcome Leukemia will take center stage at ANCHOR life + fitness on Broad Street in Kennett Square, and it will be an event that will require a lot of heavy lifting. Open to anyone 18 and over, the fitness center's “Lift for Leukemia” will include a half-day challenge for participants to test their strength in bench pressing and dead-lifting, and all proceeds from the event will go directly to the Pin family. Participant fees are $40, t-shirts are $25, and sponsors can have their logo printed on the t-shirt for $100.
“A co-worker of Kelly's had come into ANCHOR and began to talk with me about what Kelly and Dan were going through with their son,” said Charlene Richardson of ANCHOR life + fitness. “Ironically, I was discussing with my staff that very day about a possible charity event that we could host and who it could be for, and when I heard about Benny, I said, 'Well, there's our answer.'”
Richardson is the mother of a 20-month-old son.
“This kind of thing should never happen to kids. It just doesn't make sense, and there are really no words,” she said. “All we're doing is trying to help a family who is going through a tough time, and hopefully, we can help ease some of the burden that everyone in their family is going through.”
“One of the great things about ANCHOR is that they capture what Kennett Square is really all about,” Kelly said. “As human beings, they are so true and genuine and they have their hearts in this. They dove into this with such love, and it's been blowing our family away.”
In order to best serve as her son's primary caretaker, Kelly recently had to take a leave of absence from Bancroft Elementary School, where she has been a second- and third-grade teacher for the past eight years.
When she was hired by the Kennett Consolidated School District, a colleague told Kelly that combined, the school district and the town operate together as part of one very large family. When she and Dan read the names of those individuals who have made contributions on the Go Fund Me page, they immediately recognized many of them. The others, they suspect, are the friends of friends and family.
“There are people whom I've never met before and even brief acquaintances, and when I see all of them donating for my son, I look at their names and I begin to cry. We have been bombarded by the level of support we have received.”
“I have learned to trust my motherly instincts during this journey, and prayer has served as mu guidance and my strength,” she said. “We don't take things for granted anymore. Now, we're beginning to see more energy in Benny, and recently, he told us that he wants to play with trains, so I will play trains with him.
“Through all of this, I will totally be focused on allowing myself to enjoy being thankful during this stressful time.”
Sponsors for the Feb. 8 event include Accents of Nature Landscaping, Inc., Bancroft 2nd Grade Team, Braeloch Brewing, Buck Educational Consulting LLC, Chadds Ford Abstract, Inc., Chadds Ford Complete Services, LLC, Core Family Practice, CrossFit Kennett Square, Encada, Family Transitions, David Ferron Unionville Saddle, Giant, Giordano’s, G. Michael Goudy, Inc., Hoffman Design, Kennett Education Foundation, Mason Miller, O’Donnell Painting, LLC, Penn Animal Hospital, Tamburrino Family Orthodontics and many anonymous sponsors.
To pre-register for “Lift for Leukemia” on Feb. 8 at ANCHOR life + fitness, visit www.anchorlifeandfit.com/bennystrong. Participants can also register on the day of the event. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at about 12 p.m. ANCHOR life + fitness is located at 112 S. Broad Street in Kennett Square. Jan. 15 is the last day for sponsors and register to have their business logo on t-shirt, and for participants to receive a t-shirt.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.