Several hundred people “let their light shine” on Wednesday night in a show of support for Peyton Rusyn, a first grade student at Pittston Area Primary Center critically injured in a car accident on May 14.
A candle light vigil and balloon release took place at Jenkins Township Little League field which was filled with residents, young and old, many holding a pastel pink or purple balloons, many with candles in hand, all with good thoughts in their hearts for Rusyn and her family.
Msgr. John Bendik, in his opening prayer, thanked God for the progress Peyton has made during the past week. Despite four surgeries and a medically induced coma, doctors at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, he reported, are hopeful she will make a full recovery.
“We have reason to pray and God has surely listened so far,” said Bendik, “Peyton did not have any skull fracture and she is getting better every day. Jesus said to bring the little children to him, and that is what we are doing through our prayers.”
Peyton and her family are active members of St. John the Evangelist Church, Pittston, where Bendik is pastor and her grandfather, Tom Loyack, makes sure the children make it to CCD classes and other church activities.
Many attendees of the event were youngsters who play softball or attend dance lessons with Peyton. All said she is a very friendly personable little girl.
Cassie Cerulli, David Blight dance instructor, addressed the audience saying she believes Peyton’s spirit and hard work would bring her back to the dance floor soon.
Vito Quaglia, Principal Wyoming Area Secondary Center, lauded the spirit of community and service that permeates Greater Pittston.
“You don’t even need to ask,” said Quaglia, “people from this area are like family to each other and are always willing to help.”
Attendee Michael Webb, Jenkins Township, said sons Christian and Michael, participants in the Jenkins Township Little League, were enjoying visiting with other youngsters during the inspiring event.
Despite a rainy forecast and downpours earlier in the day, the weather fully cooperated. Blue skies filled with puffy white clouds provided the perfect backdrop for the night’s activities.
Sister Kieran Williams, IHM, led the singing of “This Little Light of Mine,” with a special verse alluding to the light shining over Peyton Rusyn and her family.
Williams read a letter from Peyton’s mother, Julie Loyack, expressing gratitude for kind words, prayers, donations, and child care that have been poured out on her family.
In addition to Peyton, Loyack has four other children, one of which is Peyton’s twin, Preston.
Preston, along with CCD teacher and event coordinator, Colleen Kutchkus, offered a spirited countdown to the balloon release. As the pink and purple balloons made their way to the sky, many were visible moved.
“From my spot at home plate, I could see there was not even one dry eye,” said Kutchkus.
Many joined in singing “Let It Go,” a popular song attendees knew by heart.
Kutchkus said the efforts of the family to be at Peyton’s bedside constantly, travelling to and from Danville, have resulted in a great financial need.
“Julie has been with Peyton almost constantly since the accident and she has been unable to work,” said Kutchkus. “The family really needs some help.”
In addition to Wednesday night’s vigil, a “Team Peyton Benefit” will be held on May 31 at Jenkins Township Fire Department. The event will include food, fun, and refreshments at a cost of $20. Children under 16 will be admitted free.
Peyton’s hospital room in Danville is filled with cards and stuffed animals sent by well wishers. Her family looks forward to her opening her eyes and being flooded with both beauty and support.
The logo for Team Peyton is a butterfly that many sported on specially made T-shirts.
To purchase tickets for the upcoming Team Peyton benefit, contact Frank Cawley, Pittston City Fire Department, at 570-407-1497 or Collenn Kutchkus at 570-479-1116.
Donations can also be made to Team Peyton at any M & T Bank.
Information about the effort and future fund raisers can be obtained at its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TeamPeytonRusyn.