Walk raises money for needy students


First Posted: 8/11/2014

DALLAS TWP — The Dallas High School track filled with area residents on Saturday eager to participate in the second annual Walk for Debbie’s Darlings in memory of Debbie Darling Belenski, an area resident who passed away in 2012.

Proceeds from the event will enable 50 area youngsters to receive backpacks filled with necessary school supplies.

“If Debbie was still with us, this is exactly the event that she would have put together,” said Mark Belenski, Debbie’s husband who helped organize the event. “I think that she is smiling down on us right now and is elated at the spirit and turnout of the event.”

Bill Jones, who was on the committee for the walk, said he was overwhelmed and very grateful for the support of area residents making the event possible.

“This is a very special day,” Jones said. “Family members, friends and members of the community are here in honor of a life filled with a passion for helping needy children.”

Saturday’s weather cooperated as walkers were able to complete the mile course under blue skies with moderate temperatures. Mark Belenski noted last year’s event also had the benefit of beautiful weather.

Many of the 400 participants in the walk had been co-workers of Debbie’s at Prudential Insurance.

Peggy Lyons of Waverly worked with Debbie “for many years” and was clad in high heels as she participated in the walk.

“Debbie used to always tease me about wearing high heels,” Lyons said. “I wanted to honor our friendship by making the 1-mile trek in a way that would make her smile.”

Accompanying Lyons were daughter Diann, 5, and son Austin, 6.

Lyons remembers Debbie with extra fondness because she introduced her to her husband. She remembers that Debbie always kept a photo of her children on a wall near her work space.

Norman Darling, Debbie’s father, said although her death was a very sad loss, her generous spirit lived on through Saturday’s walk and other efforts of the Debbie Darling Belenski Memorial Foundation, which partners with the Luzerne Foundation.

The event brought a tear to the eye of Debbie Parker. Parker said Debbie was more than simply a friend, “more like a sister,” as they grew up in the same area, attended the same schools and remained lifelong friends.

Among the youngest walkers was Joseph Piccirilli, 3, who was decked out in his best hat, sunglasses and stroller.

His parents, Stan and Beth Piccirilli, said they were walking on a great day for a great cause in honor of a wonderful co-worker.

Debbie was a lifelong resident of the Dallas, graduating from Dallas High School in 1978. Her family owns and operates Darling Farms and Greenhouses, Dallas. Many members of Debbie’s family were on hand, clad in purple, ready to assist participants or share a story reflecting on Debbie’s life.

A quilt on display at the event highlighted Debbie’s spirit of service to area entities such as the YMCA, Volunteers of America, the Red Cross and breast cancer awareness. The quilt also reminded onlookers of Debbie’s affinity for Penn State and the Bishop O’Reilly basketball team, which husband Mark coached.

A bake sale and basket raffle were also held.

As Mark Belenski overlooked the hundreds of walkers entering the track in honor of his wife and in support of area youngsters, he looked forward to many more years of assisting members of the community in honor of his wife and in remembrance of her great love for others, especially young people.

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