Child, 6, far from alone in fight against leukemia
From shiny pennies to a ride in a helicopter, donations are pouring in to help one of New Castle’s youngest citizens.
Six-year-old Kira Arnold, a kindergarten student at Kathryn Senor Elementary School, was diagnosed in February with leukemia. The family’s insurance won’t cover all of the medical costs, and the expenses keep coming.
A fund-raiser dinner and silent auction is planned for Saturday, and a fund for cash donations has been established at Alpine Bank.
Kira’s father, Dave Arnold, returned from Denver recently, where Kira is staying while she undergoes chemotherapy treatment.
“I can’t believe the amount of support that my family has gotten since I’ve been away,” he said.
“The long-term care of Kira is going to be a real financial burden,” said Arnold. Still, he’s optimistic, and hopes to have donations left over to give to other families in the area who are going through similar experiences.
Kira lives in New Castle with her father and her stepmother, Cassandra, her 17-month-old brother, Gabriel, and an 11-year-old sister, Alyssa.
Dave, who was a construction supervisor with Amerlink Log Homes, has quit his job to take care of Kira, while Cassandra continues to work full-time at Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs.
The Arnolds first realized that Kira was sick when she developed a strange cough. Before they knew it, they were at Children’s Hospital in Denver being told that she had leukemia. Since then, said Arnold, family members have been struggling to learn more about Kira’s condition while dealing with the reality that she is deathly ill.
Her outlook is guarded. The chemotherapy she has received has been really rough on her. Arnold said. In addition to losing all of her thick brown hair, unexplained seizures have affected her memory.
“She forgot what macaroni and cheese was and what chocolate milk was, and she loves those things,” said Dave. But she is showing improvement. She was recently released from Children’s and is now staying with relatives in Denver.
“She can go one way or another,” he said. “Reality tells me that, yeah, she’s going to pull through,” he said. She’s bounced back from some tough times already in her short life.
“We’re hoping they’ll let her come home soon,” said Carla Anderson of Glenwood Springs, Kira’s step-aunt. “She’s a great kid.”
The family was hoping she could attend Saturday’s fund-raiser, said Anderson, but her immune system is too weak to let her travel.
Dave Arnold said he won’t return to work until Kira is home and living a normal life again. That has put a financial strain on the family’s budget.
“I’m not accustomed to asking for help,” he said, “but when I did, wow!”
Friends of the Arnold family have approached several businesses for donations for Saturday’s silent auction.
“People were just awesome,” said Karen Wood, a friend and owner of Accents From Head to Toe in New Castle. She cuts Kira’s hair, and hopes to cut it again soon.
“All but a few donated. It’s so cool to see the community come together like that,” said Wood.
As of Monday, about $4,000 worth of goods for the auction and food for the dinner had been donated, according to Wood. Auction items include Colorado Rockies tickets, ski tickets, a hunting trip, a handmade baby quilt, gift baskets, salon treatments, a hand-carved Broncos emblem, a new Cochrann sofa valued at $1,200, numerous gift certificates, lawn and garden and household items, a chimney sweep, a year of tanning, and a half-hour helicopter ride for up to five. More donations are expected, said Wood.
The students and staff at Kathryn Senor Elementary are also showing they care.
Kira’s 19 classmates in Brenda Murphy’s kindergarten class have sent cards and letters and stuffed animals. They miss her, said Murphy, but they don’t fully understand what she’s going through.
“They just know she’s very sick. They enjoy getting updates, and are hoping she comes back soon,” Murphy said.
All this week, students at the school are donating their pennies for the Arnold family. The penny drive, which was organized by Kelly Lord’s Success for All reading class, runs through Friday.
One girl brought in a bucket of coins, said Murphy. “Every bit helps,” she said.
Kira’s fund-raiser will be held from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the New Castle Community Center. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Donations can also be made to the New Castle Child Fund, at any Alpine Bank location.
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