BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP — The McCurry family struggled during the holiday season in the wake of losing their 13-year-old daughter, Siani, who died in April due to complications from a bone marrow transplant prompted by leukemia.
“We have the memories. But it’s really hard trying to get along with the holidays without the most jubilant character in our family,” said her brother, Davon McCurry, 19.
Yet the start of a new year marks the beginning of a tradition in memory of the teen, a National Junior Honor Society student who also was named a Burlington Rotary Club student of the month.
Every January, the family plans to hold a fundraiser for the Siani Strong Foundation, which they formed to provide financial assistance to families of adolescent bone marrow transplant patients at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
This year’s event will be Jan. 10 at the Performing Arts Center on Fountain Avenue.
Several of Siani’s supporters will be honored.
In attendance will be Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia nurses who surrounded Siani.
“The nurses were the ones by her side when she passed away,” said McCurry, the foundation’s president.
Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th, of Palmyra, will get the foundation’s Outstanding Public Service Award and Elizabeth Scott, the public relations coordinator and curriculum supervisor of the Burlington Township School District, will receive the Outstanding Commitment Award.
Singleton met the McCurry family at a bone marrow donation awareness drive they held in 2012.
“Since that day he’s been very helpful about getting the word out,” McCurry said.
Scott has “been so instrumental in really helping us mobilize the township and the school district and getting those folks out to those events,” McCurry said.
Finally, they’ll honor the first individuals helped by the Siani Strong Foundation. The McCurrys raised $20,000 last year to set aside for Siani’s medical costs. When Siani died, they ended up giving the funds to a Pennsylvania family whose 14-year-old son was struggling with bone marrow complications. The teen died over the summer, McCurry said.
“We were just blown away by how resilient and strong this family was,” McCurry said.
The entertainment lineup for the Jan. 10 event includes songs by Nu Beginning, featuring Siani’s two aunts, and a performance by Siani’s classmates at Burlington Township Middle School. McCurry said they’ll sing “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which Siani sang at her fourth-grade talent show. Also, food and Siani Strong merchandise will be available.
The event will be from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center, 610 Fountain Ave. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
Tickets can be purchased in advance online at www.sianistrong.org. For questions, visit the website or call McCurry at 609-864-6809.
Siani was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in March 2012 and had a bone marrow transplant that November. She became a bilateral lung transplant candidate after developing the most severe form of graft-versus-host disease, which attacked her skin, sinuses, intestines and lungs.
In addition to brother Davon, she’s also survived by her mother, Tracy, her father, David, and brother, Ravon, 25.