ANKENY, Iowa -- Eight-year-old Reese Brennan shares many similarities with kids her age.
"I love swimming and I like snuggling with my mom," said Reese. What sets her apart right now is something the Brennan family hopes to soon get rid of. "She was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in October of 2019," said Reese's mother Deana Brennan.
It is a rare disease where Reese's bone marrow isn't producing enough new blood cells. The cure is to get a bone marrow transplant. Deana said, "There's only 600 to 900 cases of aplastic anemia diagnosed per year. A lot of doctors haven't seen this type of disease."
Treatment is not only costly, but it is also time-consuming. "I always have to get IVs and pokes sometimes," said Reese. Finding a doctor who specializes in aplastic anemia has forced the family to make weekly trips from their Johnston home to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "It's been very tough. God's been great and we have a deep faith in him," said Deana.
Jami Langenfeld, owner of the Style Bar Boutique in Ankeny, is helping to ease the burden. "There's a lot going on the world, but everybody does want to look for that moment to be kind and compassionate towards everybody as well," said Langenfeld, who caught wind of the Brennan's travels and has been donating ten percent of her sales to the family for a week. "The kids are very strong and stronger than you could ever imagine," said Langenfeld.
Also lifting a hand is the Ankeny based Miracle Travel Works, which helps seriously ill children and their families with travel, lodging and food as they undergo urgent medical treatments. "They are already dealing with a lot trying to finagle insurance and being away from home and stuff. It is just a little something we can do to help them," said Joy Burk with Miracle Travel Works.
They are community-driven people who are hoping some of their help can make it easier for Reese to focus on being an 8-year-old. "It is quite an expense and toll on the family, so it's great to have support from the community," Deana said.
The Shop for a Cause for Reese will last until the shop closes at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25. If everything goes as planned, the Brennans hope to have a bone marrow transplant in April. That'll be just in time for their favorite swimmer to make a celebratory splash in sunny Florida. "I'm looking forward to my favorite thing and it's swimming and having so much fun without the hospital and spending time with my family," Reese said.
Everyone involved with Miracle Travel Works is enlisted on a volunteer-only basis. One hundred percent of the donations received go directly to help families in need.
Donate here: https://miracletravelworks.org/give/