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Erika Anne Hirschmann of 6222 Saddlebrook Drive, Hermitage, PA passed away with her family by her side on Saturday, March 15, 2008 at Family Hospice Manor, Pittsburgh, PA after a valiant effort to overcome heart disease known as cardiomyopathy with pulmonary hypertension. Erika was born on August 18, 1978 in Sharon, PA to Joseph and Marcia Ann (Smouse) Hirschmann. During her early years, she attended the MCAR preschool and Children’s Center of Mercer County (formerly Crippled Children's). When her parents were working, Erika was cared for by her loving grandmother, Terezija Hirschmann. During her childhood, she especially enjoyed baseball, fishing, playing with her younger sisters and brother, and camping trips with her grandparents Robert and Delores Montgomery. Erika participated in the Little League Challenger baseball program for several summer seasons. Erika attended the Hermitage School District Life Skills program through her elementary and secondary years. She also enjoyed participating in the vacation trips organized by the Committee for Children with Special Needs. It was on one of these trips in 1996 that Erika experienced her first heart failure episode, but she bravely fought back and survived. A year later, Erika survived another life-threatening condition and difficult surgery while on a family vacation in Florida. She triumphed over those obstacles and graduated from the Hermitage School District in 1999. Erika was proud to be a member of Hermitage Girl Scout Troop 605 with leader Brenda McAdams, earning numerous badges and awards, culminating in the prestigious Silver Award. She also participated in weekly religious education classes at John XXIII. Erika attended the MCAR Adult Workshop from 1999 to 2007, where she made many friends of both the staff and clients. She also enjoyed MCAR’s bowling league, recreation programs, parties, dances and field trips. When Erika’s heart condition worsened in 2007, the employees of the City of Hermitage formed “Erika’s Army” to raise money for Erika’s medical expenses. Erika’s Army held a garage sale, raffles, a 5K walk/run and a wonderful, memorable spaghetti dinner and Chinese Auction at the Avalon at Buhl Park. Friends in DuBois, PA also held a fundraiser and treated Erika to a fire truck tour of the city. The love and support from the entire Shenango Valley and DuBois communities will always be remembered, appreciated and cherished by her family. Erika was as loving and giving as a person can be. She could never pass by an opportunity to donate to the Salvation Army or any other charitable fundraiser, often giving away the only dollar left in her wallet. Erika adored firefighters, police and EMT’s and she loved to collect and wear shirts and badges representing her favorite heroes. Erika never knew that she herself was very much a special hero to her family and her many friends. Erika is survived by her parents, Joseph and Marcia Hirschmann of Hermitage, her sisters, Samantha and Martina, and her brother Adam, as well as her grandparents Delores and Robert Montgomery of Blairsville, Georgia, and her aunt and uncle, Betsy & Terry Sholes of Vacaville, California. She was preceded in death by her paternal grandparents, Martin and Terezija Hirschmann of Hermitage, and her maternal grandfather, Edmund L. Smouse of DuBois, PA. Visitation will take place at McGonigle Funeral Home, Sharon, PA from 2 - 4 p.m. and 7 - 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19. Funeral service will take place at 6:00 p.m., Monday, March 24 at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Hermitage, PA, to be followed by dinner at the church for Erika’s family and friends. Interment to be private. Erika’s family requests that memorial contributions be made to: ARC of Mercer County (MCAR) Family Hospice and Palliative Care Hermitage Volunteer Fire Department Stephen Cominos Foundation
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