Funds raised for another Ranchos family
Organizers for the Bryan Rhoades Fund said the efforts to raise revenue for the 1996 Douglas High School graduate have gone so well in the last month that they plan to turn their sights to another Valley family in dire financial need due to catastrophic illness.
“The response for Bryan has been fantastic,” said Keith Lowe, one of the fund-raising organizers. “We have gotten over $5,000 in donations from many different sources. It’s really gratifying. We’re close to our initial goal.”
Rhoades, 20, has a genetically rare form of muscular dystrophy, Friedreich’s Ataxia, which has hit him hard since May. His condition is considered terminal, although the average lifespan of FA patients is 37.
Bryan’s mother, Shirley, and her sister, Cathy, now care for Brian around the clock, spelling each other for sleep and brief trips for supplies. Shirley quit her job at the Carson Valley Inn in May and the family has been relying on savings, insurance and donations for day-to-day expenses.
Previously unable to communicate since May, Shirley said Bryan has been making efforts to talk recently, and is intelligible much of the time.
“It’s great, but it’s sad, too,” she said. “The other day he asked me to go get his shoes so he could go fishing – something he said before he got so sick in May.” Bryan is still bedridden for the most part.
Lowe, who is a member of the Carson Valley United Methodist Church, took an interest in the Rhoades’ situation even before meeting them.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” he said. “Any one of us could find ourselves in need sometime.”
He said that when he and his wife retired here in 1991, they both were diagnosed with cancer and had health insurance but no secondary insurance.
“We were close to wiped out,” he said. Friends at the Inn Cognito Restaurant in Genoa raised funds to help them.
Lowe said the McElhiney family will be the next recipient of fund-raising efforts by himself and Stevie Henderson, also from the Methodist church, who are planning a benefit yard sale next Saturday.
The McElhineys include Mike and Julie and their young daughters, Rachael and Michaelyn, students at Scarselli Elementary School.
Julie has a rare lung disease – lymphangioleiomyomatosis – whose only known treatment and potential cure is a lung transplant. Julie did have the transplant in May 1995, and has required regular care since then to deal with the side effects of her immune-suppressant drugs, which all transplant patients must take so their body doesn’t reject the “foreign” organ.
Mike is presently unable to work in his profession as a finish carpenter in order to care for Julie and the couple’s daughters.
“We thought the yard sale might give us a good place to start,” Henderson said. “I know many times people want to be able to help, but they don’t know how, so we need to give them the opportunity.”
Lowe and Henderson said donations of items for the sale are needed, as well as plenty of customers next Saturday. Tax receipts are available for larger donations and there will be pick-up available.
The sale will be Saturday, Oct. 25 from 8 a.m. until the customers drop off. It will be held in the old Copeland Lumber site at the corner of County Road and Highway 395 in Minden.
If you wish to donate items, either take them to the site Saturday morning or call Henderson, 265-4066 or Lowe, 265-2751 for information on pick up or where to drop off your items.
If you want to help, but are unable to attend or donate items, there is a newly-established account for the McElhineys at Nevada State Bank inside Smith’s in Gardnerville. The number is 440012284.
The Rhoades account (0440011799) is still open. Lowe said he is willing to pick up and deliver checks for either account.