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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 15, 2017

Little Superheroes hosts Festival of Trees

Nov 16, 2017
PHOTO SUBMITTED Little Superheroes board members Alex and Christie Kessel and Nate Weaton, left, present a grant check to Troy and Carrie Tysdahl and baby Knox.

Little Superheroes is gearing up for its second annual fund-raising Festival of Trees set for Nov. 24-25 in the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.

“The festival will be even bigger and better in this location, with decorated trees of all sizes, wreaths and garlands, centerpieces and original creations for purchase, all benefiting the Little Superheroes charity,” said Suzan Kessel, grandmother of the little girl who inspired the organization of the Little Superheroes charity.

Little Superheroes was formed by Alex and Christie Kessel after their daughter — Suzan Kessel’s granddaughter — Valerie was born three years ago with a rare condition called chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. As they spent months by Valerie’s side at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, they decided to do something to help other families struggling with serious long-term life-threatening issues and formed the 501(c)(3) charity. A nine-member board serves on the nonprofit organization.

Doors to the Festival of Trees are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 24, complete with a Hawkeye Tailgate area at 1 p.m., and the Fairfield Lions Club soup supper at 5 p.m.

Nov. 25, the hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Anyone is welcome to stroll through the display and enjoy the live and artificial trees and purchase a tree in support of the organization.

Each day, local bakers are providing homemade holiday treats to eat there or take home, and hot chocolate and coffee will be served. Children can visit with Santa from 1-3 p.m. both days.

The many accomplishments in the first year of Little Superheroes existence are the direct result of generous contributions and support of the Festival of Trees event, according to Suzan Kessel.

In the past year, Little Superheroes has awarded several families with $5,000 grants following its mission to provide help and hope to children facing serious life-threatening issues through providing assistance to families facing long term medical crisis.

In December, the first Superheroes grant was awarded to Flynn Lanferman and his parents Jeremy and Deana Lanferman. Flynn was diagnosed in 2008 with ALL — Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Over the past nine years, he has been subjected to several drug regimens, chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant, but despite these treatments he has relapsed four times.

Flynn’s father decided to donate his bone marrow in order to try and cure him once and for all. Flynn was again put in the hospital for a lengthy stay and upon returning home he faced a life of being sequestered to the house in order to maintain a controlled, healthy and clean environment. His mother is his primary caregiver.

Flynn and his parents, along with his two brothers, continue to fight and hope that this final remission will last forever.

The second Superheroes grant was awarded to Gabrielle “Gabby” Ford and her parents David and Mandy Ford. Gabby was flown to Iowa City via AirCare with severe hydrocephalus and a mass, both identified from a CT scan after she collapsed at home with a possible seizure. She then endured four brain surgeries to place stents and remove a portion of the tumor. Her diagnosis was confirmed after the third surgery — pilocytic astrocytoma — a grade 1 benign tumor that cannot be fully removed without devastating consequences.

Gabby was started on a regimen of 18 rounds of chemo. During this period, her mom’s employment was terminated as a result of her extended illness, and her mom remains her primary caregiver shuttling her between school and her multiple appointments.

The third Superhero grant was awarded to Knox Tysdahl and his parents Troy and Carrie Tysdahl. Knox was delivered March 4 via an emergency C-section at 23 weeks. He weighed just 1 pound. Troy and Carrie stayed in Iowa City while Knox was in the neonatal intensive care unit at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. During his stay in the hospital, Carrie had to end her employment and their two older sons remained home in the care of friends, relatives and other caregivers.

Knox was able to go home in July, but his home-care needs remain great and he will require ongoing medical care for an undetermined time.

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