Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

March 29, 2013

Ride For Whitney charity fundraiser is set for April 27

By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express

---- — Elk Rock State Park will be the site for a charity horse ride, intended to help raise money for the family of a nine-year-old Grimes girl, stricken with a form of brain cancer.

Whitney Caldwell was diagnosed with pilocytic astrocytoma in December. According to the Boston Children’s Hospital, this “is the most common type of low grade glioma, with a very high cure rate of 90 to 95 percent. Low grade gliomas are slow growing, less aggressive cancers of the brain or spine. Children cured of cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma enjoy a quality of life better than most children who’ve had cancer. A child’s balance, strength and coordination may be compromised if there was damage to the cerebellum, but a child’s fertility and life expectancy should not be affected.”

Whitney’s mother, Tori, echoes this.

“It’s curable,” Tori said. Whitney is undergoing chemotherapy, which her mother says the little girl handles very well.

“She’s been a trooper,” Tori said. Doctors encourage Whitney to be as much of a kid as possible. No secrets are kept from the little girl regarding her condition or treatment. Tori describes her daughter as often being in good spirits.

Fortunately for Whitney’s family, she has good insurance. However, the costs of gas, food and other living expenses have outpaced what the family can earn. That, and her love for the family, inspired Tori’s friend Vanessa Sprengelmeyer to organize this ride.

“I love (Tori’s) kids like they were my own,” Sprengelmeyer said. She wanted to reach out and do what she could for the family. A horse owner for five years, Sprengelmeyer describes this equestrian-loving community as tight-knit. They often pull together to help a friend in need.

Sprengelmeyer said Elk Rock was selected as the site of the charity ride because of its beauty and accommodations. She invites horse riders to join everyone for a ride, beginning at 11:30 a.m. April 27, for a cost of $20.

The fund raising event is not limited to just the riders. Everyone is welcome to join them for a party and meal that evening, around 5 p.m. Free will donations will be accepted, but the meal will be provided. Door prizes and a silent auction will also be part of the event. At the end of the night, Sprengelmeyer is eager to present Tori with all of the proceeds.

“(Whitney is) an awesome little girl,” Sprengelmeyer said. She hopes Knoxville and the surrounding communities will come to be a part of the event to help this family.

For more information, visit www.rideforwhitney.weebly.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rideforwhitney