Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Disney Bon Voyage

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Disney Bon Voyage

Article excerpt

The nippy fall weather last Friday didn't stop dozens of children from celebrating at a surprise Disney-themed bon voyage party in honor of young Charlie Rowe, who diedSept. 26 from a rare form of cancer at the age of 4.

It wasn't just Charlie's triplet siblings Sam and Maddie and his older sister Maryn, 6, who were surprised by the block party, but all of their playmates who live in their close-knit Center neighborhood.

The area parents, local volunteers and several teachers and administrators from Montour School District kept the event a secret until the children arrived home from school, said Michelle Fisher, a neighbor and Rowe family friend who helped plan the event.

The send-off included a parade led by Montour teachers dressed as Disney characters, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Principal Todd Price was costumed as the Incredible Hulk. The Montour marching band performed the classic rock tune "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum while sporting mouse ears, and the Center Township Volunteer Fire Department passed out candy from its fire trucks.

The Rowe children will be traveling with their parents, Doug and Natalie, to honor Charlie's life and fulfill some of his wishes while visiting Walt Disney World this week. He had wanted to meet all of his favorite characters and spend time in what he referred to as Mickey's castle. Mr. Rowe is a principal in the Hopewell School District, while Mrs. Rowe is a learning support teacher at Montour.

"The world lost a true superhero when little Charlie Rowe lost his battle with pediatric cancer. In his short life, Charlie taught his parents, their friends, their school districts and their communities more about life, empathy and genuine kindness than any other [child] could ever teach in a lifetime," said Rhonda Marasco, Montour teacher and close friend of Charlie's mother.

"Although Charlie is no longer with us, his spirit will always live on in our hearts and his story and journey will continue to unite his family and his supporters. …

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