tampabay.com

A haunting for a scare and a worthy cause

Spooky woods feature thrills and aid for an ill woman.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE
Published October 28, 2006


PINELLAS PARK - Jennifer Pascale loved helping her older brother and a cousin create scary places when they were children.

Now that they're adults, her brother is at it again: he's designed a haunted forest on his half-acre property. But this time, Pascale couldn't help. She's confronting a real-life scare of her own.

"I have colon cancer that has metastasized to the liver and the lungs," said Pascale, who was diagnosed in May and is undergoing chemotherapy.

She had to give up her job as the after-school teacher at Pinehurst Children's Center in Pinellas Park and put her studies on hold at St. Petersburg College. She was three classes shy of graduating with a special education degree, said Pascale, 30.

Her illness also has put a financial strain on Pascale and her husband, Michael, who works for an insulation company, and their two children, Riley, 6, and Rachel, 4. They bought a house two months before she was diagnosed with cancer, Pascale said.

So big brother Shawn Keeney decided to help by creating a haunted forest at his home in Pinellas Park to raise money to help his sister pay her medical bills. Teeming with the macabre, from anatomically correct skeletons to a dummy that jerks spasmodically from a noose, the half-acre "forest" also will be haunted with costumed performers and special effects.

Keeney 33, is a manager for PCM Precision Inc., a Largo company that includes among its specialties automated equipment used at theme parks.

He said his backyard haunted forest will be professional, thanks to his co-workers from PCM Precision and former colleagues from Oak Island Entertainment Group, a special event company in Tampa. Volunteers have donated "tons and tons" of product and time for the project, he said.

His sister learned about her brother's special Halloween treat early this month.

"I just can't believe there are so many people willing to help. Most people have never met me and they're volunteering stuff and donating stuff," she said.

Pascale says doctors are optimistic about her prognosis.

"The doctors say I still have surgery to go through and at least six more sessions of chemotherapy and that the surgery is going to remove part of my liver and it's going to take out the tumor out of my colon," she said.

The surgery, she said, should take place after Christmas

IF YOU GO

What: Haunted forest featuring sleepless souls trapped in the woods.

When: 7 to 10 tonight and Tuesday.

Where: 6031 115th Ave. N, Pinellas Park.

Details: Candy will be provided for small children. Children who would prefer not to be scared will receive safety pumpkins for the trail to alert performers.

Admission: Free.

Donations: will help pay Jennifer Pascale's medical bills.

Information: (727) 641-4430.