Although Jamestown native Ashley Saxton has passed on, the memory of her courage still lingers strong in those she left behind.
A benefit will be held on Sunday for the family of Saxton, a 2003 graduate of Jamestown High School, who passed away in July as a result of complications of cystic fibrosis and diabetes at the age of 27. The benefit will serve to help the Saxton family with final expenses and other incurred medical bills.
The benefit is set for noon until 6 p.m. at the Den Adelsman's Klub in Gerry. It will include a home-cooked dinner with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, biscuits, vegetables, dessert and beverages. The benefit will also feature a Chinese auction, giveaway drawings and a 50/50. Live entertainment will be provided by DJ Good Rich, karaoke, live musicians such as The Geezers and an open mic are also scheduled.
According to Nancy Smith, Saxton's mother, her child was always full of life, and a goal-setter who, when she set her mind to something, would accomplish it.
"She was my rock, and was always there when I needed her," said Smith. "She had a zest for life, and she would do great things even though she was very sick sometimes."
Although Saxton became ill quite often she spent the majority of her time being productive. She was an accomplished violist that played with the Fredonia Chamber players, danced with the DeMarco School of Dance for five years and continued her education at Jamestown Business College and Jamestown Community College. She was also a cheerleader and a member of the color guard before she had to stop being involved in sports.
"She was a hard worker, and she started working at the age of 16," said Smith. "She worked at Manor Oak, Heritage, Loyalton, Arby's and the Connection."
Saxton was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 5 months old, and Smith was told that her daughter had a 50 percent chance of survival. When Saxton turned 12, she was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, and at the age of 17 she was diagnosed with two types of cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.
"She was sick all the time, and I really didn't think she'd make it to 4," said Smith. "Then 4 came, and 7 came, 15 came and I thought we were winning this game. We almost lost her when she turned 17 and was diagnosed with diabetes. She had what is called pancreatitis, so her pancreas didn't produce enzymes. And, diabetes is common for those who have pancreatitis."
Saxton had a dog named Zoe, who misses her mom now that she has passed, said Smith.
"She was in the ICU at Women's and Children's Hospital in Buffalo for a month before passing," said Smith. "She went into a coma, and when she woke up the first thing she asked for was Zoe. So, I was pretty happy that we got to say goodbye to her."
Saxton is also missed by her sister Tinesha Smith, brother Shane, nephew Deryck Gullet and niece Alexandria Gray.
Diane Speadling coordinated the benefit to help Smith, who said she is too emotional to be able to plan it herself.
"I believe she is in a better place now," said Smith. "When I was driving home she came to me, it was so quiet and soft, but it filled everything, she said, 'Mom, I'm OK.' She was always in a lot of pain and just toughed through it. I'd like to think that she had a good life."
Tickets to the benefit are $5 presale, $8 at the door and children under 8 get in free. Presale tickets are available at Tom's Tavern in Maple Springs and at the 5th Wheel in Jamestown.
Den Adelsman's Klub is located at 3411 Salisbury Road in Gerry. For more information call Speadling at 240-3353 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.