Payton Bowling has a bright future at just 11 years old. She is a competitive cheerleader and an honor student at New Franklin Elementary. She has always been happy and full of life. Then one day, she started having headaches.

“She was getting headaches for about two weeks and would complain of vision change,” said Payton’s mother Crystal Bowling. “We took her to our family doctor and that’s when they found a tumor in her right temporal lobe.”

Payton was transferred to Penn State Health Hershey Medical Center where she had the tumor surgically removed. She is currently in an impatient rehabilitation center recovering from her surgery according to her mother.

“She has suffered motor skill loss, but is making progress everyday with therapy,” said Crystal Bowling. “We’re hopeful she will make a full recovery.”

When John Kennedy, owner of Swamp Fox Wood Crafts in Marion, learned about what Payton was going through he knew he had to do something. He got to work building a bench that will be raffled off at the Marion Festival to raise money for Payton.

“It all started with being a volunteer fireman and wanting to help people. When it comes to children, I’ll do it in a heartbeat, ”said Kennedy “This is just one way I can help raise money for a child in need.”

Kennedy has put close to 130 hours into the Eastern Red Cedar bench so far with the help of his son Dakota Kennedy. He estimates the near 500-pound bench will take close to 70 more hours to complete.

This is not the first time Kennedy has answered the call to help those in need. He made two log chairs, one for the Waynesboro firehouse and another for Blue Ridge Summit. The chairs were to honor the late deputy fire chief of Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue Rob Biesecker, who passed away last December. “It’s not about the recognition, I’m just glad I was able to help out,” said Kennedy.

The bench to benefit Payton Bowling will be raffled off at the Marion Festival on June 24 at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $5 each. To purchase raffle tickets for the bench call 717-375-6184 or email swampfoxwood@hotmail.com. Tickets will also be available at the Marion Festival on June 17-24.

For those who wish to donate in another way, Crystal Bowling has a fundraiser at Hoss’s from June 12-17. When you dine at Hoss’s in Chambersburg mention “Payton’s Army” or group number 63264 and a portion of your bill will be donated to help Payton.

Payton’s story is being shared through the Facebook page, “Payton’s Army.” There, you can follow along with daily updates about how she is progressing as the family updates it.