PHILIPSBURG — A woman who has helped numerous youngsters — many with special needs — for several decades is in need of the community’s help for herself and her large family.
Kelly Watson, 56, of Philipsburg, who is the mother of 11 children — nine of whom were adopted — was diagnosed in December with Stage 4 adenocarcinoma, a cancer that has been found in her stomach, intestines, liver and lymph nodes.
Originally from State College, Watson moved to Philipsburg when she met her husband, Dan.
The couple are currently traveling between Philipsburg and the Cancer Treatment Center in Philadelphia in an effort to fight the disease.
“(Kelly) is currently not in the hospital since she decided to go the route with the pills (treatment),” said her daughter, Sophie Watson. “She does require infusions every third week and in case of emergency situations, Philadelphia is the place she would go for care.”
Sophie Watson said her mother is currently very ill from chemotherapy, weak and tired.
“She is extremely positive, which is helpful in this situation, but she is unable to eat much, consistently losing weight, and she is extremely sensitive to the cold,” she explained. “She spends most of her time inside the home.”
According to Sophie Watson, her mother has four grown children ages 39, 37, 22 and 21-year-old Sophie. There are still seven children at home, ages 4, 7, 8, 10, 10, 11, and 12. She said many of the younger children at home have special needs including cerebral palsy, legal blindness with fetal alcohol syndrome and microcephaly.
In addition to adopting nine children, the couple has fostered about 75 children throught the last several years.
“Due to the younger children’s ages and the special needs they have, (Kelly) is a stay-at-home-mom,” Sophie Watson said. Dan is employed at Chemcut in State College.
She said the couple has always been passionate about helping others in need. They have been foster parents for more than 15 years and they were life sharing providers for more than eight years.
“Life sharing is where you welcome adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities into your home and treat them like family,” she explained. “You make sure their needs are met on a daily basis. We had two adult male individuals and growing up we did lots of fun things — they enjoyed camping, going to the beach, going to parks and enjoyed family picnics. (Kelly and Dan) did this for about eight years, until they transitioned back into fostering children.”
Sophie Watson said she watches over her younger siblings and makes sure their needs are met.
“The medical bills are piling up. She chose the chemotherapy pills to limit the travel to once every three weeks, but along with the pills she gets infusions, and each infusion costs $31,000. This treatment center is out-of-network for her insurance, so while the insurance is picking up some of the bills, they are not covering a lot of them. We are looking to raise money for medical bills, travel expenses and child care.”
Sophia and her family have planned a benefit dinner that will be held Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Hope Fire Co. Recreation Center, 500 N. Sixth St. in Philipsburg from 3 to 6 p.m. The Delgrosso’s spaghetti dinner includes salad, roll and drink. There will also be a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and a bake sale.
Dinners are $10 each with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Watson family. Eat-in and take-out options are available.
“We are actively looking for donations for baskets or items for the auction, along with items for the dinner such as plates, water and soda,” Sophie Watson said. She added that anyone who would like to donate outside of the dinner can contact her at 577-2877. She said the family could also benefit from meals brought into the home.
Additionally, a GoFundMe account has been set up for the family.