Liverpool family focusing on the positive

Miranda L. Pennock 09/01/10More articles
Miranda L. Pennock/Trayvon Curkendall, 11, plays a video game in his Liverpool home. He is in need of a heart transplant.
Benefit for Trayvon Curkendall
TIME: 6 to 8:30 p.m.
DATE: Saturday Sept. 11
PLACE: Café 407, 407 Tulip St. in Liverpool.
COST: $10 for individuals, $30 for families
Donations can be sent to: Benefit for Trayvon Curkendall, AmeriCU, 7474 Oswego Road, Liverpool, NY 13090.
Visit the family’s blog at

Benefit for Liverpool boy will aid family during heart transplant

Eleven-year-old Trayvon Curkendall loves to play soccer and baseball. He’s a video game fanatic and adores animals.

And when a heart becomes available, he will head to New York City to have a crucial transplant so someday he will be able to run and play … something he’s not able to do right now.

“One of the ventricles is missing,” said Renee Curkendall, Tray’s mom. “He’s had three open heart surgeries to remediate the problem.”

But, Tray’s heart continues to weaken due to an arrhythmia that occurred two years ago.

“It’s not going to get better. It’s only going to get worse,” Renee said. “Now is the time to move forward.”

Despite a brave front, Tray admits he’s a little scared of the pending surgery, which is not a procedure that can be planned out in advance. He’s at the mercy of what happens, Renee said.

“[I’m] sort of scared, just to think about them taking my heart out,” he said.

While there’s some fear of the procedure, Tray is not going blindly into the transplant — he attends Hope With Heart camp in New York City each summer, which was created for children with heart problems and there he’s met several campers who’ve had transplants.

Some day, Tray would like to become a counselor at the camp in order to help other children like himself.

The Curkendall family, of Liverpool, includes not just Tray and Renee. There’s also dad — Peter — and five other children; Annette, 20, Joshua, 14, Marriela, 7, Cody and Sergio, both 4. While four of the six children are adopted, together they’ve kept Renee and Peter on their toes, as five of the children are medically complex.

Each child, though, is a blessing.

“The things they’ve gone through are twice as hard as the things we’ve gone through,” Peter said.

That’s why the family tries each day to focus on the positive — a phrase that’s almost a mantra for them.

This month, the Curkendalls will be looking forward to an event that is doing just that. An evening at Café 407, 407 Tulip St. in the village of Liverpool, will be dedicated to helping Tray and his family as they prepare for a life-changing journey to New York City, which could happen at any time.

The benefit, slated for 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday Sept. 11, will include a silent auction, upscale desserts and a raffle featuring generous donations from the community. For $10 per person, or $30 per family, attendees will have an opportunity to listen to live music, have a cup of coffee and devour finger desserts.

As a special treat, the Hung Gar Kung Fu school in Syracuse, led by Sharif Bey, will be performing for the benefit. They will be doing a demonstration and possibly a traditional Chinese Lion dance. Most importantly, Tray will become an honorary member.

“Tray loves kung fu but cannot participate until he has the transplant,” Peter said.

All proceeds from the benefit will go to the Curkendall family to help with travel expenses, accommodations and keep the family afloat in Renee and Tray’s absence during the three-month, or more, stay downstate.

Their stay in the Big Apple will include biopsies, medication changes and regular monitoring to be sure Tray’s new heart is not rejected by his body.

Friends and family from across the state, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are expected to travel to Liverpool for the benefit and to show their love and support for Tray.

With so much already on their plates, Renee and Peter are not the driving forces behind the event. Rather Jillian Sweeney, a friend of the family, has gone out and organized everything.

“It’s always difficult to reach out and ask for help, but for someone to offer … it’s very humbling,” Renee said.

To say Tray is excited about the benefit in his honor is an understatement. Talking about the event, he expressed his excitement, his eyes lit up and a huge grin spread across his lips.

“We are appreciative of every ounce of support, every prayer … it has not gone unnoticed,” Renee said.

CATEGORY: Charity & Activism
TAGS: Liverpool, Trayvon Curkendall, heart ransplant, medical
EDITION: Star-Review

Rating: 2.4/5 (17 votes cast)

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