Various Fundraisers Garner over $13,000 for Boy Battling Lymphoma

 

By SHAUN FRIEDRICHSEN and ERICA CHIPPERFIELD

Alliance Times-Herald

 

With one of its youngest members in need, the community of Alliance has stepped up to the plate, raising over $13,000 for James Benzel, who is currently battling lymphoma.

Benzel is currently a second grader at St. Agnes Academy and has been involved in the Oldtimers Baseball program. For the past year and a half, he has been battling aplastic anemia, a rare condition where a person stops producing enough new blood cells. He received a bone marrow transplant. At the end of this summer, Benzel was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Heather Kozal, who helped to organize a car wash at Safeway on Sunday, said the community response has been a major success.

“When we found out that he was diagnosed with lymphoma, the St. Agnes community wanted to do something to support him and his family that are undergoing travel expenses and medical expenses,” said Kozal. “The Benzels also have five other children at home that are mostly in school. His parents, Jeremy and Karen, are big in our community and also give a lot, so we wanted to help them and return their kind favors that they have done as well.”

Kozal said that in conjunction with the car wash, there was also a bake sale, as well as a $100 challenge issued by Heather Edwards, who lost her son to cancer in 2005. These efforts helped to raise the total amount over $13,000, though, according to Kozal, there are still more donations coming in.

“The challenge raised $3,000 in 24 hours,” Kozal said. “The community was very supportive. We had a line of cars from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. yesterday. The football boys came out and donated their time, and most of them stayed the whole time. The seventh and eighth graders at St. Agnes Academy came and washed vehicles, and they were a big part of it along with the St. Agnes family. Safeway donated the parking lot and the water, and Taco John’s donated half-price tacos for the people who had helped all day as well. It was pretty darn amazing. Our community is amazing. Any time something tragic happens, or someone needs something, Alliance always shows up and supports our community.”

People who want to help support Benzel can donate to his account at First National Bank, or a Venmo account. There is also a meal train set up on social media to help support the family while James receives treatment.

Karen Benzel, James’ mother, said she appreciates all of the support the community has shown throughout this process.

“We are humbled by the generosity of the Alliance community. James has been battling for his life for over a year and we have kept most of the journey private. It is just who we are. Never did we imagine the support we would receive from our wonderful community. We are thankful to each and every person that has prayed for our family, donated their time, resources and everything else to support James and our family as he continues his fight for his life.

Karen thanked a host of people who have helped organize fundraisers to support James.

“Thank you Heather Kozal and Laura Lynn Higgins for organizing the car wash and thank you Terri Myers for spearheading the bake sale. A big thank you to Heather Edwards as she has been such a wonderful supportive friend and unfortunately has been in our shoes. She also arranged for Just Shoot Me Photographics to come to our house to take a family photo today that we will treasure always! Thank you to all the SAA Community and everyone that helped today. We love you all and are truly grateful for each and everyone who came out to support our family.”