Meet just a few of the kids from our region who benefit from Brave Kids Bold Cures and the funds we raise.

Meet Chase

The pain started in Chase Jones’ ankle. It was so unbearable, the 6-year-old wouldn’t walk on it. His parents, Doug and Marcie, were baffled.

They brought Chase to his primary care doctor in Minot, N.D., never expecting their lives were about to change forever. Blood tests revealed Chase likely had cancer.

Doug and Marcie were stunned silent as the medical team prepped the family to leave that night for Sanford Children’s and Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo.

“I just watched him and looked at him and that’s when I got emotional and broke down,” Doug said. “I was just giving Chase a hug and his old soul came back again and he said, ‘Dad, don’t cry.’”

A week later, Chase was officially diagnosed with a rare, high-risk form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“Once you hear that, your body just goes into like a shut-down,” Doug said. “It’s like the end of the world and all you can do is think about the possibilities.”

Treatment has been hard on everybody. Continual blood work and chemotherapy take a toll on Chase’s little body, but he’s as brave and strong as he can be.

“He’s taught me what strength is,” Marcie said.

The regimen sometimes requires Chase to be at Sanford Children’s and Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo for days and weeks at a time. It means he’s four hours from home, away from his two sisters and brother, missing school and coping with the side effects of treatment, like hair loss, nausea and a weakened immune system.

“The battle with this form of cancer is an extremely long journey with all kinds of twists and turns along the way,” Doug said.

But the physicians, nurses and staff do their best to make Sanford Children's and Roger Maris Cancer Center feel more like a home away from home than a hospital.

“From the first phone call, Sanford has been like a member of our family,” Doug said. “They put our minds at ease every time we walk through those big doors at Children’s on level 4.”

Chase’s journey is just beginning, but with the support of Brave Kids Bold Cures, he has a fighting chance.

“You plan for the best and that would be that he goes into remission and is able to go about life as normal ... having his friends, doing the things he likes to do, riding his bike and graduating high school,” Doug said. “From there, whatever he wants to do is an open road.”

You can help kids like Chase with a gift to Brave Kids Bold Cures. Funds help purchase lifesaving equipment, fuel pediatric cancer research and support unique programs and services to benefit all pediatric oncology patients and their families.

Help Chase today.

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Meet Cassie

For 14-year-old Caylee Miller, nothing beats seeing her 6-year-old little sister, Cassie, smile. "She's the highlight of my day," Caylee said. "We go for walks together, watch movies and play Barbies. She's just one of my favorite people because she is always there for me."

Over the past year, the sisters have become especially close. They've been pulled together by the difficult news of Cassie's cancer diagnosis. The diagnosis – acute lymphocytic leukemia, cancer of the blood and bone marrow – was hard on the whole family, especially Caylee. "I wonder all the time, 'Why did God do this to her and not me,'" Caylee said. "I hope she's with me through everything. I hope she can grow up to be my age."

"We felt so scared. We didn't know if we were going to lose our kid or not," added their mom, Jennifer. The family spent much of Cassie's kindergarten year traveling from their home in Gladstone, N.D., just east of Dickinson, to Sanford Children's in Bismarck – the region's only hospital offering pediatric cancer services.

Cassie lost her hair during the first week of chemotherapy treatment, but within a month, her bone marrow was clear. "It means the world to us to have care like this here, close to home. We're so thankful," Jennifer said. "Cassie actually loves her days when she gets to come to Sanford Children's for treatment. The whole staff has become like another family. It makes me feel so good to know that she feels comfortable with them."

Cassie finished treatment this March. She is now in first grade and still comes to Bismarck once a month for checkups at Sanford Children's. "Cassie is just amazing. She's a normal 6-year-old. She runs, plays and wants to do everything other kids do," her father, Joe, said. "She doesn't let much get her down unless she's told to clean her room. You wouldn't know she was sick if it wasn't for her short hair." And Caylee has seen her little sister show so much strength over the past year.

"I don't know if I could handle this the way she has," Caylee said. "She's been so strong. I know she's getting through this." "It's great to know that she's getting what she needs, so she can grow up, graduate, get married and do whatever else her little heart desires," Joe added.

Thanks to Brave Kids Bold Cures, Sanford Children's in Bismarck has the resources to care for kids like Cassie and their families. "To those who support Brave Kids Bold Cures, we'd like to say thank you straight from the heart," Jennifer said.

"Without the support of Brave Kids Bold Cures, I honestly don't know what we would have done. We're just truly grateful. Thank you."
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Meet Silas

Silas Rehbein is 4 years old and full of spirit.

“He’s by far our most challenging child of four boys,” his mom, Savannah, said with a chuckle.

But she wouldn't change a thing about him, except to somehow erase cancer from his life.

Silas' journey started at dinner one night in the fall of 2016. He complained of a stomach ache and felt warm. The next day, he was too sick to finish the school day. Savannah picked him up early and later that night, desperately tried to stop a bloody nose.

After a series of tests and consultations with doctors near their home in Dickinson, N.D., they learned the devastating news: Silas was facing acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“Of course, when you get that kind of news you immediately go from the diagnosis to death because you really don’t know any different,” Savannah said.

The next morning, Sanford AirMed transported Silas across the state to Sanford Children’s Fargo and Roger Maris Cancer Center.

The family had mixed feelings.

They were saddened to be so far from home, but relieved to get more answers and a treatment plan to fight Silas’ blood cancer.

So far, Silas has undergone blood transfusions, surgery and chemotherapy and experienced several setbacks. Through it all, his oncology team has been open and honest with the family and answers every question.

“The doctors, they’ve been great,” Savannah said. “They make sure we understand everything that’s going on and make sure we are comfortable with everything that’s going on.”

The Child Life Specialists help his three brothers understand what’s going on.

“They’re there to help with the kids and keep them comfortable,” said Savannah. From time to time, the Child Life Specialists and nurses comfort Savannah and her husband, Carl, too. It’s a constant struggle for them, to stay strong while trying to balance Silas’ care, their other boys' lives back home and their own work schedules.

“Everyone works really hard and makes sure we are taken care of,” Savannah said. “So they’ve been amazing.”

Support from Brave Kids Bold Cures helps keep Sanford Children's and the Roger Maris Cancer Center on the cutting edge of pediatric cancer care, supporting lifesaving technology, equipment and services to care for kids like Silas. All of this fills the Rehbeins with strength, and hope.

“His treatment is three and a half years with no major setbacks,” Savannah said. “He’s going to be 8 years old by the time this is all said and done. I just hope that he goes on to be a healthy, happy adult. Most of all, happy and healthy.”

You can help kids like Silas and their families with a gift to Brave Kids Bold Cures.

Help Silas today.

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Meet Brave Dave

David, better known as Brave Dave, was a very special little boy. During his six years, he changed many lives including that of his mom, Lora Baker.

He was an all-American boy who loved T-ball, Spider-Man, skateboards, fireworks and ice cream. "He was always on the go, always making people laugh, always making a difference," Lora said.

Then in January 2004, David was coloring, and Lora noticed when he would look up at her, one eye would be centered but the other would stay in the outer corner. "I just kind of had that mommy feeling that something wasn't OK," Lora said.

After three days in a row of doctors appointments, the family heard the unimaginable news. David had an extremely rare and inoperable brain tumor. "That's the day that our would just wasn't our world anymore," Lora said.

Instead of being a solid mass, Lora described the tumor as being like a sneeze. The tumor went everywhere and intertwined with his nerves and muscles. "When you hear the words, 'Your child has a brain tumor,' you think, there are advances; we're going to fight this," Lora said. "But then they told us there is nothing to treat this. You just need to go home and love your child."

Under the care of Sanford Bismarck’s pediatric oncologist, Dr. Baruti Serabe, David did undergo radiation to slow the effects of the brain tumor. "She's an absolute angel on Earth," Lora said. "We came to her with a very sick boy, but she helped us spend as much time with David as we could. She will always have an extraordinarily special place in my heart."

"If you are here at Sanford, you really are with a lot of people who really care. They are going to make sure that you and your family are OK no matter what." Lora called David's 31 rounds of radiation "Star Wars beams" fighting the bad spot in his brain. While most kids his age require anesthesia to keep still during radiation, David laid perfectly calm on his own through each treatment.

Through those treatments, David became known as "Brave Dave." Lora still gets stopped on the street by people who say, "You're Brave Dave's mom." "He'd always say, "Mama, Spider-Man's my hero,'" Lora recalled. "And I'd say, 'David, you're my hero. You are just an amazing little boy."

David passed away on August 23, 2004, just seven short months after his diagnosis. Lora had followed the doctor's orders and filled the final months of David's life with love and lots of playtime – making memories she will cherish forever. "He definitely was put on this Earth for a reason," Lora said. "He taught us to love each other more because you just don't know what can happen."

Brave Kids Bold Cures provides funding for advanced research and technology at Sanford Children's in Bismarck to help find better treatment options for kids like Brave Dave. Make sure no kid fights alone today.
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Meet Haley

Haley Schallmo knows no limits.

“She loves everybody, wants to do everything and see everything,” Haley’s mom, Kristi, said. “She always tells me that she’s going to be a doctor when she grows up.”

It’s no surprise to Kristi because Haley has practically grown up in hospitals.

Haley was born with a severe heart disorder and has undergone numerous heart surgeries. In the first years of her life, she endured more than any child should. But then, in May 2016, Haley was also diagnosed with cancer.

“I was in total denial,” Kristi recalled after she first heard the news.

Treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia so far has been especially complicated by Haley's heart condition. Her body can’t handle chemotherapy and certain drugs. Instead, twice a day, every day, she gets two injections to prevent blood clots.

“I think that is the most awful thing I’ve ever had to do in my life: to do that to her every day,” Kristi said.

At times, the treatments have been physically painful for Haley and hard for her parents, who often feel helpless to comfort her.

“She’s had numerous reactions and she’s had excruciating pain in her bones,” Kristi said. “She would wake up screaming in the middle of the night and you couldn’t touch her. It was like she was coming out of her skin.”

Through everything, they are grateful to lean on their family at Sanford Children's and Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo.

“All the nursing staff at the hospital is amazing,” said Kristi. “They’re all wonderful and they all want you to understand. As a parent, it’s comforting to know that I wouldn’t go anywhere else.”

Thanks to support from Brave Kids Bold Cures, Sanford Children's and Roger Maris Cancer Center can provide world-class, child-focused care for kids like Haley. Funds also support pediatric cancer research, in which Haley has been able to participate, helping advance treatments and cures for kids.

“I just keep telling myself she has a very obvious purpose on this Earth,” Kristi said. “Every challenge she encounters is also a challenge for the medical community. They’ve all learned a lot from her.”

The Schallmo family has also benefited from the unique programs and services from Brave Kids Bold Cures to help. That support is a huge relief for the family, and it lets them stay focused on what's most important: fighting for Haley's future.

“We still have to continue treatment, but that doesn’t hold back her dreams,” Kristi said. You can help kids like Haley and their families with a gift to Brave Kids Bold Cures.

Help Haley today.

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