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Their challenges inspire efforts
KINGSTON — As you head out to enjoy your summer weekend, think about David Williamson and Isaac Tate. You’ll not take your weekend for granted. And you may feel compelled to do something to help.
David, 3, was at Seattle Children’s Hospital July 30, preparing for surgery to remove his pancreas, spleen, gallbladder, appendix and a section of his small intestine, and then take insulin-producing cells from his pancreas and transplant them to his liver.
His father, Tim, and sister, Aleksys, also have pancreatitis and are undergoing tests to determine their next course of treatment. Meanwhile, Tim, an electrician, has been laid off and the family’s medical insurance expires in November.
“We have a mantra,” mom Sheila Williamson said. “One day at a time — literally. Every time we have an issue, it’s one step at a time, one day at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time.”
Isaac, a 10-year-old who likes baseball and plays piano, is undergoing treatment for epilepsy that resulted from encephalitis that developed when he was 6. He had a seizure lasting 15 minutes and was unconscious for two weeks. When he awakened, “he didn't know who his parents were, could no longer walk and couldn't even tell you what a banana was,” family friend Candace Gilkerson said.
After four years of therapy, Isaac is “your typical 10-year-old boy, with one exception — he has epilepsy,” Gilkerson said. “He now has to take nine pills every day for his various medical conditions which stemmed from that illness … He recently was approved as a good candidate for brain surgery but his parents are unsure if they want to take that route just yet. The risks of surgery are too great.”
From David and Isaac’s courageous battles have emerged efforts that are helping others.
David’s parents started the Foundation for Childhood Pancreatitis (www.childhoodpancreatitis.org) to raise awareness about pancreatitis and connect parents with specialists, support groups and financial assistance.
And over the past two years, Chelsea Tate, Isaac's mom, has been an advocate for raising epilepsy awareness and has been a team leader in the Northwest Epilepsy Foundation’s run/walk for epilepsy. She’s raised thousands of dollars for the foundation.
But the medical challenges they face have taken a toll on these families.
David, who goes by the nickname Ijah, spent a total of 67 days in the hospital in 2012. “I haven’t calculated how many days this year,” his mom said July 30 from her son’s room at Seattle Children’s. This year’s medical treatment included a visit to specialists at University of Minnesota Amplantz Children’s Hospital.
Ijah’s surgery will cost approximately $212,000, dad Tim said.
And Isaac's mom is struggling to make ends meet after four years of getting her son to various doctor appointments and hospital stays in Seattle and Tacoma.
Members of the community are trying to help.
You can learn more about Ijah — and how to help defray expenses associated with his treatment — at www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/wlr2/ijah-s-team, www.facebook.com/HelpIjahWin, and www.helpijahwin.org.
Donations can be made to the David Elijah Williamson account at any Columbia Bank branch. You may also mail a donation (make checks payable to D. Elijah Williamson) to P.O. Box 2314, Poulsbo, WA 98370.
Tim’s union, IBEW local 46, is organizing a fundraiser barbecue. Call (206) 679-5480 or email email@example.com for more information.
Meanwhile, “Seattle Children’s has been able to help us tremendously with David’s care,” Sheila said. The Williamsons stay at a Ronald McDonald House during Ijah’s treatments in Seattle. Members of their church have helped the family with other costs.
Isaac, an incoming fifth-grader at Wolfle Elementary School, missed 36 days of school last year and has up to five medical appointments a month.
“Although we have great insurance, the cost of all the hospital stays and out-of-town doctors visits are more than we alone can handle,” Isaac’s mom said.
You can learn more about Isaac — and how to help defray expenses associated with his treatment — at www.facebook.com/IsaacsEpilepsy.
Gilkerson is asking local businesses if they will allow her to place a donation jar to help with Isaac's medical care. Businesses can contact her at (518) 926-9566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A fundraising garage sale is scheduled Aug. 2, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Aug. 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 5720 NE Grove Lane, Kingston.
The owners of Majestic Mountain Coffee, 11229 Highway 104, Kingston, celebrate the 20th anniversary of their business and host a fundraiser for Isaac on Aug. 17, 4 p.m.
Donations to Isaac's medical fund can be made to Chelsea Tate, P.O. Box 173, Kingston, WA. 98346.