A fundraiser held last month to benefit Camryn Flerchinger, a Helix 7-year-old who suffers from a seizure disorder, has brought in more than $17,000 to help her family with medical expenses.
The "Carnival for Camryn" was held in the Helix School gym on Sept. 5 to help raise money for medical expenses not covered by insurance. This includes a special MEG scan, a type of brain scan that can chart changes in brain activity more accurately than other scans.
The carnival and community feeds alone raised more than $13,000, and since then an additional $4,000 has been donated.
"We are amazed at the support of the Helix community, especially in these economic times," said Stephanie Flerchinger, Camryn's mother. "I'm speechless. Stunned. Just awestruck."
Stephanie Flerchinger and her husband, Kirk, a Pendleton Police officer, never thought the fundraiser would bring in enough money to cover all medical expenses, but figured it would raise maybe $200 or so. They even were prepared to sell their truck and house to help support Camryn. But the large turnout and extreme support from the community means the Flerchinger family will not have to go to such extremes.
"We just feel so loved and cared for," Stephanie Flerchinger said. "There are no words for it. We love Helix and we're going to retire here."
The donated funds will cover the expense of the MEG scan - an experimental procedure that helps to pinpoint the exact area in the brain causing the seizures - at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. Plane tickets for the trip to San Francisco, which will be some time in November or before the end of the year, also were donated. Once the section of Camryn's brain causing the seizures is isolated, doctors at Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital will operate to remove the troublesome area.
Neighboring community members from Athena and Pendleton also have chipped in. A yard sale was at the Mormon Church in Helix to raise additional funds for the Flerchinger family and children at school have been donating pennies to help.
In addition to the local support they received, the family has applied for a grant from the Epilepsy Foundation.
Stephanie Flerchinger said she's been fielding calls from other families with similar seizure issues asking about the experimental procedures Camryn will endure.
She said she's hoping success with the procedures will help them to become more mainstream so that insurance may eventually start covering the cost.