One local family is hoping that, with a bit of help from the community, it can treat 3-year-old Kaidence Weller’s recently diagnosed cerebral palsy.
Modesty Caven, Kaidence’s grandmother, has helped organize a couple of fundraisers, the main one in Town Square from 2 to 7 p. m. Saturday, to send Kaidence and her parents, Stephanie Caven and Nick Weller, to Durham, N.C., to try an experimental medical treatment at Duke University.
“Anything we can do do help the quality of life for a little girl is worth doing, ” Modesty said. “And the quality of life for all the other children too. ”
They have a number of activities lined up for Saturday’s event, including performances by three bands — the Punished, the Milk River Band and Plowed Under, face-painting, a duck-pond game and a barbecue beef lunch with entree, sides and a drink for $6.
Kaidence’s dad, Nick, plays for the Montana State University-Northern Lights football team as a defensive lineman. Some of the rest of the team will be at the event to race tricycles and serve as targets in a pie-throwing contest, to show their support for their teammate.
Other activities are scheduled for an indoor portion of the fundraiser in the back of the Elks Lodge, with auctions on almost 90 items donated by businesses and individuals in Havre and Chinook, raffles and showdown poker games.
On Friday night, they are also raising funds with a dart tournament at Shamrock’s.
The family hopes the two events can help them raise the nearly $16,000 they need to travel to North Carolina and receive the treatment.
After Kaidence was diagnosed, they heard about the experimental trial going on at Duke, using blood from the umbilical cord to form the treatment.
The results that Duke has seen so far in the trial encouraged the Cavens.
“They say that everybody has had some improvement, though some have more than others, ” Modesty said.
“Some of the kids that have gone in and had it done are playing soccer and baseball, and you’d never know that they had cerebral palsy.
“They don’t know Kaidence and haven’t seen her. They don’t know, but there is a lot of promise. ”
What Duke did know about Kaidence was that she was too small to participate in the trial, though the researchers can offer the treatment outside of the study.
Modesty said that the advice of Kaidence’s great-great-grandmother in Sacramento, Calif., is the only reason it is an option at all.
When Kaidence was born, her great-great-grandmother asked them if they were going to keep the umbilical cord blood.
They had no idea that such a thing was done or why, but they went ahead and had some preserved in New England.
Three years later, after the diagnosis this summer and finding out about the research at Duke, they discovered one strong benefit.
Modesty hopes that, after this weekend, they can get the treatment and ease some of the difficulty in her daughter’s family’s life.
“We’re looking at a 3-year-old girl that can’t walk, talk, eat or hold a bottle, ” Caven said. “She has some pretty young and amazing parents who have done well in handling it for three years. ”