Fifteen years ago, doctors presented a pregnant Marlene Palm with an impossible choice that, for Palm, was not really a choice at all.
"They said I might have to abort one of my twins," said Palm. "There was something wrong in the amniotic fluid. I told them there was no way I could do that. If he comes to term as a stillborn, than so be it."
It turns out that Dylan came out healthy and happy. Six months later, however, it became clear that there was something seriously wrong with his twin brother, Jarrett.
"Parts of his brain did not fully develop," said Palm. "There's no official term for the diagnosis, so he is categorized as having seizure disorder so that the doctors can treat him. Jarrett gets about 10 to 12 seizures a day."
Since then, Jarrett has been confined to a wheelchair and has spent the past 15 years in and out of doctors' offices and operating rooms, causing the health care bills to stack up.
The Palms' daughter, Melinda, was also diagnosed with brain cancer when she was 10. Now a senior at William Tennent, Melinda has gone into remission, but there are still therapy sessions and regular checkups that need to be paid.
The financial priorities meant that the rest of the family, including her husband, Pat, and oldest son, Jacob, had to make sacrifices along the way. Dylan has confronted that reality with the kind of generosity and maturity that every parent prays their child will possess.
"He raised money for a cub scout trip to Maryland a couple years ago," said Palm. "Around the same time, we found out that Jarrett needed dental surgery, and the way our insurance works is that you pay everything up front, and they reimburse you. Dylan told us to take his money for Jarrett's operation, even though the reimbursement might not have come back in time."
Dylan's selflessness made it even more important for Marlene and Pat that they find the money to fund a new opportunity for Dylan. At the beginning of February, they found out that Dylan had been chosen as a student ambassador by the People to People organization.
Founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, People to People provides educational travel opportunities for students across the United States. Ambassadors are chosen through an application and interview process, but they need to come up with the money to travel themselves.
"Dylan loves history," said Palm. "He would get to see London, Paris, Normandy. Six or seven countries in total. This will open up so many doors for him when starts looking at colleges."
So far, the Palms have come up with approximately $2,000 of the $7,100 they need by May 1, and are working on the rest. Pat, a Navy veteran who served during Desert Storm and now works as a boiler technician for Abington Memorial Hospital, is a creative woodworker in his spare time. He has constructed several decorative birdhouses and sold them for $25 a piece, but the Palms need something big to put them over the top.
That's where comes in. On Saturday, the exercise facility will host a Zumbathon event at it's location on Street Road, noon to 4 p.m. There will be 10 instructors leading sessions both inside and outside the building. Visitors can also participate in basket raffles and a 50/50 drawing. If it rains, a secondary site has been secured at just up the road.
"This is the first time we have done something like this for one of our members," said Patty Burke, who works at Curves. "She has been through so much, but she is always smiling and always laughing."