Haunted house fundraiser scaring for a cause

Trish Leibfarth and her fellow Greeks are scaring up some cash with their Halloween haunted house.

The sixth annual event will be held from 7-11 p.m. Thursday at the Lambda Chi Alpha house, located at 327 N. Pine Street. Pi Phi and Lambda Chi sponsor the haunted house and kiddie carnival, both open to the public.

For Yankton native Leibfarth, this year's fundraiser has become intensely personal. The proceeds will benefit her aunt, Wilma Lombardo, who suffers from Stage 4 breast cancer.

"We do this (haunted house) every year on the Thursday before Halloween. The proceeds benefit either a local family or a family member of someone in our house," Leibfarth said.

"We nominate different families who are deserving (of the funds) and then vote to determine which family is chosen."

While strongly hoping for Lombardo's selection, Leibfarth admitted she was still stunned when her aunt was chosen as the recipient.

"I was taken aback at first, that people would be so willing to help out. (The fellow Greeks) are helping somebody they don't necessarily know," Leibfarth said.

"I definitely have a smile on my face by helping my aunt and her family through this terrible time, knowing how hard it is for them."

Lombardo was overcome with happiness when she learned of Thursday's fundraiser, Leibfarth said.

"She was overwhelmed with joy, that people could think of her like that," Leibfarth said. "She was happy that people would be so willing to help out her and her family, when she is one of many who are battling this disease right now."

Lombardo was diagnosed in June and quickly learned the extent of her breast cancer, Leibfarth said. Lombardo lives in New Mexico and is receiving chemotherapy.

The money raised at Thursday's haunted house will go toward Lombardo's medical treatments and her family's living expenses, Leibfarth said.

Lombardo and her husband, Tony, have five children ranging in age from 5 to 16. Tony Lombardo is the brother of Trish's mother, Michele Leibfarth, a Yankton resident for nearly 20 years.

"Wilma is a stay-at-home mom, and the father (Tony) is the only source of income. With five children, it's hard for them to support everybody," Trish Leibfarth said.

"Last year, we raised more than $1,500. This year, we would like to raise at least that much and more."

In September, Wilma Lombardo suffered an infection which required hospitalization, Leibfarth said.

"At one point, they weren't sure if (my aunt) would make it through," Leibfarth said. "But she is a fighter and is working hard at this."

The two USD Greek chapters set up the haunted house Monday night, and it's ready to go, Leibfarth said.

"Absolutely everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend," she said. "We want this year to open it up more to the community and organizations."

The haunted house will actually consist of two floors, so visitors can decide what they want to experience, Leibfarth said.

"On the main floor, children won't have a scary moment," she said. "They can have the haunted house tour by going upstairs where it's different. We have put together a 'Scary Movie' theme with every room displaying a scary movie from the past couple decades."

Admission to the haunted house is $3 and a canned-good donation or $5. In addition, the children can enjoy a kiddie carnival for a free-will donation. The kiddie carnival features face painting, a cake walk and fun games.

Thursday's fundraiser will provide more than just a financial boost for the Lombardo family, Leibfarth said.

"This has been a very emotional time for our family," Leibfarth said. "This is something that I'm really proud of, and I am looking forward to doing this for (my aunt)."


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