The Mesothelioma and Asbestos Disease Society recently presented Assumption BVM School in West Grove, with a $13,535 grant check, according to a press release. The grant will help Assumption BVM fund the much-needed removal of asbestos ceiling and floor tiles from the school's main building.Assumption BVM is a parochial school with 225 full time students. Over 1,000 children and adult members of the community use the school building on a weekly basis for classes, meetings and community events. These programs range from year-round athletic leagues, CYFF classes, Girl Scout Troops, Cub Scouts dens and after-school enrichment programs such as Young Rembrandts and Science Explorers.

Now, thanks in part to the generosity of the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Disease Society, the students and faculty of the school, as well as the community at large, will be relieved of the safety and health risks associated with exposure to asbestos.

"It's a great feeling to be able to help Assumption BVM with their asbestos removal project," said Patricia Harahan, chair of the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Disease Society. "People often naively think of asbestos as a thing of the past. The truth is that asbestos is a current danger; it's a toxic material that is unfortunately not yet banned in this country."

The Mesothelioma and Asbestos Disease Society-more commonly known as the "Meso Society"-is a non-profit group established by the Harahan family of Exton that seeks to raise awareness about mesothelioma and the risks of asbestos. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers by inhalation and/or ingestion.

When Harahan learned of Assumption BVM's funding needs for its asbestos removal project earlier this year, she was eager to help. Harahan challenged Assumption BVM to take part in the Meso Society's 5th Annual Meso Walk, an annual event of the Meso Society that pays tribute to families and individuals affected by asbestos cancer. Harahan promised to match all the funds raised by the school's participants up to $6,000.

On April 13, over 200 people participated in the five-mile walk along Boat House Row in Philadelphia, including several dozen participants from Assumption BVM. Fujirebio Diagnostics was the leading event sponsor.

Exceeding Harahan's challenge, the students, parents and teachers of the Assumption BVM came together to raise $7,535 for the 2008 Meso Walk. The Meso Society generously returned every dime of Assumption BVM's fundraising efforts to the school for its asbestos removal project, along with the promised $6,000 in matching monies, for a total grant check amounting to over $13,000.

"Our family can't forget the past, but we will focus our efforts on making asbestos cancer a thing of the past," said Harahan. "Each of us has experienced pain and loss in our lives. We can choose to see past the problem and look forward to a solution. We meet many families who tell of their own asbestos trauma and the helplessness they feel when there is no cure for their loved one. You can see the relief in their face and hear it in their voice when they hear of asbestos removal projects, when they learn of the possibility of a blood test that will diagnose others at an early stage, of experimental drugs that are being tried, or just of the postcards we send to our Senators to support a ban of asbestos. Ultimately, [we] want to improve the lives of those affected by mesothelioma; we strive to turn grief into hope."

Harahan runs the Meso Society with the help of volunteers who have been diagnosed with or have experienced a family loss due to mesothelioma. The board members are Bernard Harahan, Joe Harahan, Trish Harahan, Tom Harahan, Laura Harahan and Tim Broadhurst, family of Barney Harahan, who died in July 2000 of mesothelioma. Other members are Gail Hannah, fiance of Michael Jones, who died in 2001; and Melanie Walls, wife of Tim Walls, who died in 2003.

The Meso Society is a fund of the Chester County Community Foundation. For more information about the Meso Society, please call the Foundation at 610-696-8211 or visit www.mesosociety.org. To help support asbestos awareness and research contact the Meso Society, 28 W. Market Street, West Chester, PA 19380.

The Chester County Community Foundation is a non-profit organization that encourages people from all walks of life to create permanent endowment funds for charity. Working together with its donors, the Community Foundation makes grants to local non-profit agencies to meet the community's charitable needs. With the support of those who care about their community, the Chester County Community Foundation strives to enhance the quality of life for all who live and work in Chester County.

Email info@chescocf.org or call 610-696-8211 if you have any questions.

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