Benefit to help 3-year-old



SCHNELLVILLE — When Leelyn Schwartz, 3, gets tired of doctors poking and prodding him, his little sister, Emrey, comes to his rescue, giving him the strength he needs to hang in there just a little longer.

“[Emrey] goes to all his doctor appointments,” said Wilma Betz of St. Anthony, Leelyn’s aunt. “He can’t stand it if she’s not there.”

Unfortunately, there are a lot of doctor visits. Leelyn has immune thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP, which is an autoimmune disorder that causes his immune system to attack the platelets in his blood. Platelets are blood cells that are essential to the clotting process. Leelyn was diagnosed with ITP when he was 1 — just a few months before Emrey was born. An endless journey of sickness and doctors visits have followed the diagnosis.

Leelyn, Emrey and their parents, Sam and Olivia, live in English, but have family in Dubois County. The family support has been essential as the Schwartz family has searched for a treatment for Leelyn’s ITP. It’s a search that has taken them through several different medications — Betz said Leelyn is currently taking the penultimate option — and on long trips to visit specialists, most recently to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“He’s in and out of the hospital so often,” Betz said. “[Sam and Olivia] just can’t catch up with their bills.”

To help them out, Betz and her step-mom Lydia Schwartz planned a benefit for the family at Schnellville Community Club this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. The benefit will include a meal of homemade spaghetti or a brat with homemade bread, dessert and a drink. The suggested donation for the meal is $5. There will also be a silent auction from noon to 2 p.m. with several gift cards, a table top charcoal grill, a patio umbrella and inspirational picture frames, to name a few items.

Those who wish to donate but can’t make the benefit can send donations to Betz at 2900 S. St. Anthony Road North, St. Anthony, IN 47575.

“Our goal is just to make their life just a tiny bit easier,” Betz said.

Betz said her brother and his family have leaned on their faith throughout the experience and remain hopeful, but she said the faith is waning. Leelyn’s current medication recently started turning his eyes yellow, an indicator that it’s attacking his liver. Betz said it’s likely he’ll have to switch to another medication, but there’s only one medication left the family hasn’t tried. Removing the spleen — which is the organ where the platelets are destroyed as part of the disease— is a treatment for the disease, Betz said, but Leelyn is too young for that.

One of Betz’s goals with the benefit is to offer her brother and sister-in-law a little bit of hope. And Emrey will be on hand to make sure her brother doesn’t lose hope.

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