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Ben Sauer needs a miracle, community support continues to grow

BY: Jennifer Lysiak, Lancaster Editor | March 19, 2014

LANCASTER- Lancaster’s Universal Pre-K students went “Blue 4 Ben” on Tuesday. A pep rally was held at Carousel Academy to show support for four-year-old Benjamin Sauer who was diagnosed with Stage IV Glioblastoma, a malignant and aggressive brain tumor.

And even though Ben could not be at the rally, about 100 students in the morning class wore blue and filled the school with positive energy all just for Ben. The color blue is not only Ben’s favorite, but his mom used it to help others tell him apart from his twin brother, Jack.

“Obviously, we are all being affected by this in Western New York you can just feel the good energy and community, and that’s really what our program is about at Carousel with our pre-K kids,” said Carousel Academy Teacher Kim Harris, who organized the rally with Administer Amanda Karnath. “From day one, what we have tried to do is instill in the [kids] compassion, giving to someone. It’s not always about giving monetary. It’s about giving hope and energy.”

Karnath added the idea for the rally was parent driven and they took over from there.

“I think personally he’s the face of pediatric cancer,” said Karnath. “His family and the community have made him the face of these illnesses and he won everybody’s hearts. He has brought so much awareness. We are here to support him, but also to teach our kids to give back, even at four years old, and how to support a peer of theirs.”

For the past week, students have been doing different activities to show their support for Ben such as, bouncing for Ben, which consisted of the kids bouncing balls in the gym. They also decorated a school hallway with rainbows for Ben, held a bake sale, and participated in hats for hope.

“If we can right now teach them how to be compassionate to someone, I can guarantee today, tomorrow, or whenever they are going to help someone who needs helps,” said Harris.

Harris explained they have held other events in the past for other individuals. Last year, they had a parent affected by a kidney transplant and they held fundraisers, as well as held a walk in the park where they walked and chatted P-A-R-K, because her last name was Park.

“It was just about the energy and that’s why we are doing a pep rally today is to show the students that even when you don’t know someone, positivity and energy affects the air around them,” said Harris. “They feel like they know him, but they know he’s a little sick.”

During this difficult time, Ben’s mom, Mindy, did something very different. She turned to an entire community by posting stories about what she’s going through and Ben’s progress and hardships on her blog, Blue4Ben. The posts have lead to an outpour of support from the WNY community for Ben and his family.

Ben was a healthy, strong little boy, just like his twin, until January when he began complaining of headaches, accompanied by severe stomach pains. When the headaches started coming more frequently, and lasting longer Mindy and dad, Andy, took him to the pediatrician.

Mindy and Andy were told it was nothing more than a sinus infection. Ben was sent home with antibiotics, but it didn’t help. The next trip was to the ER and the diagnosis was constipation and a stronger antibiotic was prescribed, but still no change. It was nine days after the first headache the Sauers went back to the ER and this time they would not leave without answers.

Receiving news no parent ever wants to hear, Ben was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, the size of a pear. Stage IV Glioblastoma, an adult cancer, that only 0.00002 percent of the population gets and it was likely he only had a few more months before it overtook him completely.

Ben soon began an aggressive treatment plan of both radiation and chemotherapy at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, in Buffalo. He endured brain surgery and in just three weeks, Ben’s tumor grew three times its original size, even though he has been getting chemo and radiation the entire time. Treatments were not responding.

On March 3, Mindy wrote on her blog that Ben was coming home and nothing more could be done, but to keep him comfortable. And Ben only had weeks to live.

“Instead of watching my otherwise healthy four-year-old grow up through the years, I am going to be watching him die over the course of a few weeks,” she wrote.

During the pep rally, students watched a video of Ben with his family and at the conclusion of the video Ben is shown blowing bubbles. The rally ended with students filling the gymnasium with bubbles. It was a sight to see.

“We have gone above and beyond to teach the kids about hope, empathy, and being a good friend,” said Karnath.

For anyone who would like to donate, visit www.blue4ben.com. Donations will directly support the Sauer family, with a portion designated to Roswell Park Cancer Institute to support future childhood cancer research.

“I think the strength his family shows inspires a lot of people,” Harris lastly remarked.

To read Mindy’s blogs visit http://bensauer.blogspot.com/.

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