Published Date Written by Noelle Barrett
Her smile was contagious, her personality bubbly. Cheyenne Zeiders, who was lovingly known as “Peanut,” was a princess and the boss of Middletown Volunteer Fire Company.
“She had everybody wrapped around her finger within minutes of meeting her,” said her mother, Amanda Rimert. “She was just very loving.”
Cheyenne loved coloring, cheerleading and spending time with her father, Elvis, at the fire hall. The 3-year-old spent many mornings in the first booth at Kuppy’s and loved the way the owners’ daughter, Rachel Kupp, made her Minnie Mouse pancakes.
“She would bounce around the firehouse like a Super Ball,” recalled firefighter Rich Seachrist. “She would keep everyone happy and she was a joy to be around.”
In an instant, Cheyenne made an impact on the people she met – and in an instant, she was gone.
She was playing in her bedroom, and told her mother that she wasn’t feeling well. “I thought it was a normal seizure’’ Rimert said. Cheyenne had been diagnosed with epilepsy, and had experienced seizures before.
Then her mother heard a thud.
Cheyenne was rushed to the hospital. This time it was different.
Cheyenne’s heart had stopped.
She died on Tuesday, May 6 at Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center.
If she had survived, it was likely she would have suffered brain damage, doctors told Rimert. “Don’t you stop,” she told doctors. “I’m going to love her no matter what.”
Then something happened.
“She put up such a fight – she came back after 90 minutes without a heartbeat,” Rimert said.
Cheyenne held on for five more days before she died.
Doctors told Rimert that Cheyenne may have had Long QT Syndrome, which can cause sudden and uncontrollable arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats.
The loss of Cheyenne has weighed heavily, on not only family, but also the community who knew her.
Cheyenne was a preschooler at CCLC in Hershey, a child care center. She spent countless hours at the fire hall with her father.
The firefighters grew to love her.
“She would be in the TV room and would sit on your lap and watch TV,” Seachrist said. “It just pulls at your heartstrings. She was smiling one day, and then the next thing you know, she’s gone.”
Cheyenne was family, and family sticks together.
Just five days after Cheyenne’s death was Mother’s Day, a heart-wrenching day for Rimert.
“A lot of the [firefighters] went and got me flowers for Mother’s Day for one last Mother’s Day gift,” Rimert said. “They’ve really been there for [Elvis] and I.”
And now people from two of Cheyenne’s favorite places – the fire hall and Kuppy’s – have come together to hold a benefit fundraiser to help the family pay for medical bills and arrangements.
The fundraiser will be held at Kuppy’s Diner from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 29. There will be raffles and a donation bucket, and Kuppy’s will donate a percentage of all total sales for the day to the Zeiders family.
Owner Carol Kupp said it was an easy decision when she was approached by members of the fire department to hold the fundraiser.
“The loss of a child is just so huge. I don’t think any other human being can comprehend,” Carol Kupp said. “She was just so bubbly and was always happy and smiling.”
Rimert is grateful for the community support, especially from Middletown and Colonial Park’s fire departments, South Central EMS and Kuppy’s.
“They didn’t have to do this, and they did … [Cheyenne] affected a lot of people’s lives,” Rimert said. “I think she might have been an angel sent down to affect people’s lives and then taken right back up.”