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Minnechaug students helping out important cause

By Rick Sobey

Staff Intern

Imagine being the nervous parent of a two-year-old girl, and you are anxiously awaiting the results of her health exam. If the tests look like she is in a good state of health, the remainder of her life will be worry free and the parent would be ecstatic. However, if the results say the opposite, she will have a very difficult road ahead and the parent would be devastated.

Unfortunately, for Isabella Burton and her family, the tests were not optimistic. As a result, Isabella is currently having a tough time and she will continue to travel a difficult journey in the future.

The young girl is suffering from Morquio syndrome or MPS IV type A, which is a progressively degenerative disease that affects her healthy bone growth. Due to this disease, she will have many health issues and a shortened life span. Isabella will have a challenging road ahead of her with anywhere between 30 to 50 surgeries.

The two and a half-year-old girl was diagnosed with this disease on May 7, 2007, and ever since her family has been trying to raise money in order to help fight the condition.

An upcoming fundraising event for this cause will take place on May 31 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. in Northampton. It will be a benefit tag sale at Isabella's grandparents' house at 221 South St.

Bob Melnik, a teacher of wood technology at Minnechaug Regional High School, has recently found out about this fundraiser, and he will be donating his student projects to the tag sale. He believes that it is essential to help causes such as this one.

"I personally know the family and the little girl, and when I heard about the fundraiser, I thought it would be a good idea for the kids to get involved and help out a good cause," Melnik said. "I think it's important to get out there and help out people when you can.

"Not only is it good for those who you are helping, it can also really feel good to know that your actions are making a positive impact in someone else's life, especially if that person really needs your help," he continued.

In addition to Melnik's class donating projects to the tag sale, there are several other classes at Minnechaug getting involved. Gary Manuel's wood technology class is donating some of its wood projects including toy planes and keepsake boxes, Lewis Timpson's art class is donating student made pots and Joanne Weisser's baking class is donating baked goods to the cause. Along with the students' projects, the tag sale will also include teacher made items from Melnik, Manuel, Timpson and Weisser.

Melnik is quite proud of the students' effort toward the fundraiser assignment.

"There has been a really good response from the students," Melnik said. "Many are really motivated to make high quality projects not so they can get a good grade, but rather so they can get some good money for their projects and help out the cause."

According to Melnik, the family had a similar event last year to raise money for the girl, and it was a big success. He believes that the same result should happen this year as well.

"I think we can make a meaningful contribution this year with these student and teacher made products," Melnik said.

For more information about the young girl, her family, and the disease, log on to and follow the link to read her story.

In order to donate items that could be used to raise money for the child and her family, e-mail Bob Melnik at