Rare diagnosis prompts teachers, bankers to work togetherThaddeus Guderian is a beautiful little boy. Born May 25, 2009, he and his younger brother Alexander, born April 9, have the most engaging personalities and smiles.
By: By Don Leighton/For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
Thaddeus Guderian is a beautiful little boy. Born May 25, 2009, he and his younger brother Alexander, born April 9, have the most engaging personalities and smiles. Along with their loving parents, Troy and Andrea, they appear to be the perfect happy, healthy family. Norman Rockwell might have immortalized them in a painting portraying the All-American family.
Pictures can be deceiving. In September 2010, Thaddeus started having difficulty walking. Soon he couldn’t walk and began shaking, tipping over and stumbling. He had eye tremors, trouble talking and sleeping, and many other problems. Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and the Mayo Clinic could not determine the cause.
Lots of tests and procedures have taken place during the last 1½ years. After many failed attempts, a hospital in Illinois referred by Johns Hopkins University was able to diagnose Thaddeus with a rare illness, opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome, which strikes one in ten million people.
Thaddeus’ antibodies, which are needed to fight off illness and infection, are attacking his brain cells, causing his symptoms. The exact causes and treatments for OMS are not known. It is thought that OMS results from an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s antibodies are responding to either a viral infection or a tumor called neuroblastoma. Thaddeus does not have a tumor. Treatment may include corticosteroids, chemotherapy, surgery or radiation.
Because of the early onset of OMS, Thaddeus is unaware of his problems. However, the long road Thaddeus and his family must travel will include tremendous medical care and many expenses not covered by insurance. There have been some breakthroughs, but as of today, there is no cure. Thaddeus’ illness is in the moderate or chronic stage because he is unable to talk but is able to walk. He is considered chronic because this has been a problem for over a year.
Mom and Dad are both very positive and will do whatever is needed to help him. Andrea teaches second grade at Northwestern Elementary School and Troy is an administrative assistant at Superior Savings Bank.
Andrea says of their plight, “We want people to know what is wrong with Thaddeus and to know about OMS. Our goal is to inform others about this illness, get Thaddeus better and allow him to be happy. We don’t want people to feel sorry for us but to learn from us.”
They easily could be saying, “woe is me” but they aren’t.
Troy continues, “Both our work places have been very helpful and supportive. We cannot thank them enough for their understanding and compassion. We both work with some pretty incredible people.”
Employees at the school and bank thought a benefit would be a great idea. When Barb Hoag of Superior Savings realized the teachers at the elementary wanted to hold a benefit, contacts were made, meetings took place, and the two workplaces organized a benefit to be held noon to 5 p.m. March 4 at Northwestern High School in Maple.
This will not be your ordinary benefit. There will be spaghetti and other goodies, a carnival for the kids, a raffle and silent auction. What a great way to have family fun and to help a great family. Tickets are $10 per adult, $5 for ages 12-18, with kids younger than 12 free.
Advanced tickets can be purchased at elementary school or any bank branch with locations at 1130 Tower Ave., Wal-Mart, or Super One in the Belknap Plaza. Tickets also are available at the door. An account for donations and funds has also been set up in Thaddeus’ name at Superior Savings Bank.
“Two separate groups of employees, who never knew each other, have come together to create this amazing event,” said Diann Hendrickson, who directs marketing efforts at SSB. “This benefit has become a labor of love for this great family.”
Kelly Leith has taught with Andrea for six years.
“I love being part of this group of people all working for the greater good, all working to help this little boy have the best future possible,” Leith said. “The Guderians mean so much to me. I couldn’t imagine not doing something to help this wonderful family.”
If you would like to give a donation, raffle or auction item, contact Leith at email@example.com or Hoag at firstname.lastname@example.org or (218) 348-8398.
Opinions and/or story ideas can be e-mailed to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.