RHS freshman makes transplant waiting list | Palladium-Item | pal-item.com

Mar 13, 2013

Written by

Pam Tharp

You Can Help

• To make a donation, go to Becca’s COTA page at www.cotaforbeccas.com.

• • To be a lane sponsor, a prize sponsor or to bowl for Becca on April 13, contact Natalie Dennis at (765) 977-1039 or natbuss@yahoo.com.

• To participate or be a sponsor for the June 1 golf outing, contact Valerie Westbrook at (765) 935-6999 or vv1westbrook@frontier.com.

• Look up Becca’s CF Crew & Supporters on Facebook.com to buy a Becca bracelet.

Richmond High School freshman Rebecca Stoermer is one step closer to the new lungs she needs.

Stoermer, who has cystic fibrosis, recently was placed on the active waiting list for a double-lung transplant at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Now, friends and family are focusing on fundraising to help with the expense of staying in Columbus for several months after the transplant and the ongoing costs of medical travel and anti-rejection medication that Rebecca will need for the rest of her life.

The family is hopeful the transplant will occur in the next few months, said Dena Stoermer, Rebecca’s mother.

“They really can’t tell you how long the wait may be,” Dena said. “The blood type, height and weight all have to be right for the transplant to happen. The donor can be 3 inches taller or smaller.”

The daughter of Mike and Dena Stoermer, Becca, as she’s known to friends, was diagnosed as a 2-year-old with the congenitial condition that affects the lungs and other organs. A lung transplant is the only cure.

Becca returned to school this month for the spring trimester, attending three core classes a day. Last fall, she received homebound instruction every day after school while battling a lung infection that left her too weak to attend classes.

Becca still receives intravenous medications each day, so she’s unable to attend school in the morning, Dena said. The 15-year-old so wanted to get back to classes that Richmond High School counselors agreed she could give it a try, Dena said.

Being unable to attend school and see her friends every day was difficult for the outgoing teen.

“It’s great to be at school again,” Becca said. “I get to hang out with my best friends. I’m still on oxygen, but if I go to school, I’m ‘normal’ like everybody else.”

A huge basketball fan, Becca had the opportunity to be an unofficial manager on the RHS girls basketball team this year, Dena said. The junior varsity and varsity players all sported Becca T-shirts as part of their warm-ups, she said.

RHS girls basketball coach Casey Pohlenz also allowed Becca to travel on the team bus to the Class 4A sectional in Greenfield last month, Dena said.

“I had so much fun,” Becca said. “It made me motivated to get back on the team, which I want to do next year.”

Becca’s dream is to earn a varsity letter in girls basketball. She said she needs two years on the team to achieve that goal.

Friends and family members have launched a series of fundraising efforts to help the Stoermers. Donations are tax-deductible when made through The Children’s Organ Transplant Association, a national charity dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-related expenses.

“All the medicine is so costly, and there are no generics for this,” Dena said.

The transplant, which is estimated to cost almost $1 million, will be paid by the Indiana Children’s Special Health Care Services, which provides supplemental medical coverage to help families of children who have serious, chronic medical conditions.

The Affordable Care Act ended lifetime maximums on health insurance benefits, which is a real boon for youngsters such as Becca with chronic conditions, Dena said. The law also prohibits excluding pre-existing conditions or denying coverage because of them.

Natalie Dennis, a friend of the Stoermer family, is organizing two fundraisers: “Bowl for Becca” at Richmond 40 Bowl on April 13 and a golf tournament on June 1 at the Elks Country Club.

Dennis is looking for lane sponsors, prize sponsors, golf scoreboard and first-tee sponsors, as well as players and teams.

Dennis said she became acquainted with the family and its problems when she was a neighbor of Becca’s grandmother.

“It’s a lot for a little girl to go through,” Dennis said. “I just want to help.”

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