MONROE — “This community is so amazing,” said Monroe resident Sara Wunschel. “No words can show the appreciation we have for everyone.”
That community she’s talking about is Monroe and its surrounding towns, who have come together to show support in many ways for the Monroe family’s youngest daughter. Kaelie, age 8, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, in recent weeks.
The community planned a fundraiser at a recent basketball game but it was canceled due to weather. It’s been rescheduled for Feb. 8 at the 4 p.m. Monroe girls basketball game against East Troy and the 7:15 p.m. boys basketball game against Stoughton.
The Student Athlete Leadership Team will hold a “Miracle Minute” event at half time to raise as much money as possible for the family. The theme for the game will be “Kaelie the Incredible.” Students and fans are encouraged to wear their “Kaelie the Incredible” T-shirts to show support.
How to help
Follow Kaelie’s story on Facebook: Kaelie the Incredible
Order a ‘Kaelie the Incredible’ T-shirt or hat: Heartland Graphics in Monroe. Deadline: Jan. 28
If Kaelie is feeling up to it, she plans to attend and will be introduced as an honorary starter for the girls’ varsity game.
“Friends and family have been amazing with their support including words of support and encouragement, monetary gifts, meals, gifts for Kaelie and her sisters,” Sara said.
The life-altering news that the second grader at Parkside Elementary School had cancer has brought devastation to both the family and community. Much like her sisters, Kaelie loves being active and has an affinity for playing basketball.
Her diagnosis began with her thighs sporadically hurting in November. The family attributed it to growing pains, and gave her over the counter pain relievers and muscle cream to help. However, when the pain continued through the days and nights, they made an appointment with their doctor.
This community is so amazing. No words can show the appreciation we have for everyone.Sara Wunschel, Kaelie's mother
Kaelie was seen Nov. 14 and the following day the family was called in to the American Family Children’s Hospital Emergency Room for additional tests after seeing elevated levels. The following week they visited the Infectious Disease and Rheumatology Department and on Nov. 25, Kaelie had an MRI and was admitted to the hospital.
The day before Thanksgiving, Kaelie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
“Most children diagnosed are younger than 5-years-old and only about 700 cases are diagnosed per year in the U.S.,” Sara said of her daughter’s diagnosis.
Kaelie has begun daily chemotherapy treatments as part of an aggressive plan that will continue through the next 18 months. The plan also includes radiation therapy and possible transfusions, transplants or surgery. She’s currently in the midst of her third round of chemotherapy that started Jan. 13.
“Kaelie is getting the most aggressive treatment,” Sara said.
Doctors at UW American Family Children’s Hospital later discovered a mass behind Kaelie’s liver as well as throughout the bone marrow in her thighs.
“Because she is 8 years old and because the cancer has spread from one spot, she is classified in the high-risk category,” Sara said.
Kaelie has three sisters: Megan, a senior; Allison a freshman and Sydney, an eighth grader, who all attend Monroe schools. Her father, Rich, is a Monroe High School graduate and works at Hughes Flooring in Verona; Sara, who is originally from Freeport, works for an insurance company in Madison.
All of the money raised will go towards medical expenses and whatever unplanned expenses come up. We’re hoping this will alleviate some of the financial strain, so Rich and Sara can focus their energy on getting Kaelie well.Robin Lincicum, a family friend who organized the Kaelie the Incredible GoFundMe page
Megan is the videographer for the Monroe girls basketball team and Allison is on the junior varsity team. The girls also play other sports and are very involved in other activities.
The community of “super heroes” following “Kaelie the Incredible” has shown the family love and support, Sara said. Colony Brands has provided secret Santa gifts, Parkside Elementary School has given in abundance of gift cards, meal trains and cards and messages of love and support. Sydney’s basketball team has created headbands.
Green County Fall Nationals, a local truck and tractor pull group that raises money as a charitable organization that supports those in need, gave the family a trip to American Girl in Chicago.
A GoFundMe page has been created and is listed under Kaelie the Incredible has raised more than $12,000. There is also a Facebook group: Kaelie the Incredible, which posts updates of her progress.
“All of the money raised will go towards medical expenses and whatever unplanned expenses come up,” said Robin Lincicum, a family friend who organized the Kaelie the Incredible GoFundMe page. “We’re hoping this will alleviate some of the financial strain, so Rich and Sara can focus their energy on getting Kaelie well.”