They call Buffalo the City of Good Neighbors, but the Queen City hasn't got a thing on Niagara County when it comes to rallying to help those in need.
Friends and neighbors will come together in different parts of the county next weekend for benefits to aid the victims of two separate tragedies.
On March 28, at the Wrights Corners Fire Hall, 4043 Lake Ave., Lockport, a pasta dinner/Chinese auction will be held to offset the medical bills of 17-year-old Missy MacFarlane, who was partially paralyzed as the result of injuries sustained in a May 27 automobile accident.
The next day, March 29, the Sanborn Fire Hall, 5811 Buffalo St., Sanborn, will be the site of an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner to benefit the family of Dan Haseley. Haseley died of stomach cancer in January at the age of 47, leaving a wife, Carolyn, and two children, Michelle, 21, and Scott, 17.
Haseley's younger brother Randy, along with other relatives and some "very close friends," organized the benefit in honor of the popular athlete and longtime member of the Sanborn Fire Company band.
"He developed cancer in late October, and it got him at the end of January," Randy Haseley said. "It was so quick and such a shock, we just decided to put on a benefit to raise money for the family."
The Lutheran Brotherhood, Niagara Branch 8132, will provide matching funds for any monies raised.
Dan Haseley endured numerous surgeries during his brief bout with the disease, but his brother said that the illness never got him down.
"He went down fighting every day," Randy Haseley said. "There was never one time he felt sorry for himself. He fought it to the end. What an inspiration, I'll tell you that."
Donation for the dinner, which runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is $8 for adults, $4 for kids 10 and under. Call Randy Haseley at 731-7077 for tickets.
Missy MacFarlane was also an athlete, running track at Newfane Senior High School, before the vehicle she was riding in was sideswiped on Route 104, sending her to the hospital for the next 10 weeks -- nearly four of which were spent in Intensive Care.
The accident ruptured her spleen and nearly severed her aorta. Extensive surgery repaired the internal damage, and ongoing plastic surgery is erasing the external scars.
But the wheelchair she's now confined to may be a more permanent reminder of that fateful day. She is paralyzed from the waist down.
"She's doing really well under the circumstances," said her father, Bob MacFarlane.
Missy has been back in school since the first of the year and expects to graduate with her class. She hopes to enroll at Niagara County Community College in the fall and pursue a degree in either occupational or physical therapy.
In the meantime, she also plans to do some volunteer work at the Erie County Medical Center.
"We want to get a wheelchair van so she can be as self-sufficient as she can," MacFarlane said. Missy's aunt, Cindy Horner, is organizing the benefit, which runs from 2 to 8 p.m. and will include a pasta dinner from 4 to 7 p.m., music and entertainment and door prizes. Tickets are $5, $4 for seniors and $3 for those under the age of 10. Ages five and under will be admitted free.
A Chinese auction and 50-50 split drawings also are planned, with separate costs. Call Ms. Horner at 778-7805 for details.
The Aid Association for Lutherans 1336 will match monies raised at the benefit.
"The family has just been overwhelmed by the response. It's been absolutely wonderful," Ms. Horner said. "The support we've gotten through all this has just been amazing," MacFarlane said. "The whole Western New York community has just been amazing."