New Castle News

December 18, 2012

Gift of Caring: Girl raises $550 for hospital by asking for donations instead of presents on her birthday

Dan Irwin
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — At its heart, Christmas is about a child.

For Julia Germond-Loudon, though, this holiday season has been about two.

The 10-year-old Neshannock Township resident couldn’t shake the memory of a pair of young girls – their heads bare from chemotherapy – talking with actress Jennifer Anniston about their cancer in a TV spot for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“I’ve heard about it but I’ve not really seen anybody like that,” the fourth-grader said. “I started to cry.”

Her mom, Lucinda, recalled that after seeing the ad, Julia asked her, “Mommy, do those kids get to come home?”

“I told her some of them would never come home,” Lucinda Loudon said. “That’s when she said we really need to help them.”

That help came in the form of a $550 donation the family is sending today to St. Jude’s. It was collected Friday night at Julia’s 10th birthday, after Julia had asked her 20 guests not to buy her presents, but instead, to make a donation to the hospital.

“The two girls (on the ad) said they wanted to be princesses, and I already feel like one,” Julia said, “so I wanted them to feel like one.”

Originally, Julia’s mom said, her daughter had wanted to send toys to St. Jude’s, but a call to the hospital revealed that corporate donors supplied more than enough of those; what the facility really needed was research money.

“I went back to Julia and told her that,” Lucinda Loudon said, “and she said, ‘Well, then money it is, mom.’ ”

Lucinda and her husband, Russ, said that Julia’s friends and their parents all were excited about the idea, and stressed that they, too, deserve credit for their generous donations.

Little sister Jenna, 7, couldn’t help but be impressed as well.

“I was really happy for her because she cares about others,” she said of Julia. “I like how she was caring and loving for the people.”

Even though she received no gifts of her own, Julia’s birthday didn’t pass totally unobserved. She hosted her friends at a party with dinner, a DJ and dancing Friday night at Faraone’s on South Mill Street, where she arrived in style.

After claiming she had to go to the store, her mother called home a bit later with instructions for Julia to get her shoes on and go outside. When she did, she was met by a Hummer stretch limo, as well as all of her friends holding “Happy Birthday” signs.

 “It was cool,” Julia said. “The roof was all like zebra print and there was like neon lights and stuff. Before we went to the party, we went to see Cascade of Lights.”

Julia’s family has been touched by its own medical issues. Her 17-month-old brother R.J. once had to be rushed to the hospital when he stopped breathing. He later was diagnosed with asthma.

“When you look at asthma, that’s nothing compared to what these poor kids (at St. Jude’s) are going through,” Lucinda said. “These girls have lived a life lesson that you give to others – that you appreciate what you have.

“We’re just really impressed and very proud of her because there’s not many 10-year-olds out there that would want to do what she did.”