Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pizza Helps Girl, 2, Fight Cancer

Members of a Houston community gathered at a pizza shop Tuesday to help save the live of a 2-year-old girl battling cancer, KPRC-TV in Houston reported.

Layla Grace Marsh is fighting stage 4 neuroblastoma. Every day, her parents watch her get sicker and sicker.

The owner of the restaurant donated part of the money he made on a night held in Layla's honor to help with the family's mounting medical bills.

It's a rally of support for a young girl whom most do not know, but for whom their hearts are full of love and empathy. Hundreds of strangers came to the event.

"You think about what you would do if your children were put into this situation," said Mary Leamons.

Mothers and fathers from across the Houston area packed EJ's Neighborhood Pizzeria and Italian Eatery.

"It has touched my heart," said Kara Young.

Home video showed the girl in her hospital bed after surgery. Layla's cancer is normally found in children or infants.

Jennifer Medina is a longtime family friend.

"It's hard for the family to explain to the other two girls," Medina said. "They have a 3-year-old that doesn't fully grasp the concept that her sister is not going to be there anymore."

As unbearable as it is to watch their youngest daughter struggle with this disease, the family is not alone.

Layla's mom has taken to the Internet and found support and comfort on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

"It's really heartwarming to see how eager everyone else is to help and play their part," added Medina.

'Miracle On The Hudson' Pilot Retiring

Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who piloted a US Airways flight during its emergency water landing on the Hudson River in January of last year, is retiring.

Sullenberger, 59, joined US Airways' predecessor airline (Piedmont Airlines) in 1980. Until 2007, the mandatory retirement age was 60 for commercial pilots in the U.S. The top age for retirement is now 65.

Flight attendant Doreen Welsh, 59, who was on Flight 1549 when it landed in the Hudson, is also retiring. Welsh, 59, joined US Airways' predecessor airline in 1970.

All 150 passengers survived the emergency river landing in January 2009 when the plane's engines were struck by birds. The plane landed within minutes of taking off from New York's LaGuardia. It was supposed to fly to Charlotte, N.C.

Since that famous flight last year, Sullenberger has testified before Congress regarding pilot safety, given speeches about education and written a book, "Brace for Impact."

He became a member of US Airways' flight operations safety management team last September.

Sullenberger will fly his final flight to his home base at Charlotte (N.C.) Douglas International Airport Wednesday afternoon. He will officially retire at a private ceremony there with fellow pilots and other US Airways employees.

Capt. James Ray, a spokesman for the US Airline Pilots Association, which represents US Airways pilots, said that Sullenberger plans to spend more time with his family in retirement. He will also continue to talk to lawmakers about raising minimum qualifications for pilots and work to lower the maximum number of hours pilots are able to work in a single day, Ray said.

KPRC-TV Houston; AP/US Airways

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