A small community with a big heart

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
A small community with a big heart

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Five-year-old Wyatt Haas’s story gets national attention. Update on page 5.

The heart-melting story of Prairie County’s “unicorn boy” flew around the world like a magic carpet ride.

 Five-year-old Wyatt Haas’s send-0ff to brain cancer surgery was viewed by millions on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”  It was reported in People magazine and major news outlets in London, Asia and India. It was picked up by a German website dedicated to horse lovers, and numerous inspirational websites.

It was, in all likelihood, the most widely reported news event in Prairie County history.

The response brought a barrage of donations on his GoFundMe.com site. Almost $14,000 of the goal of $30,000 has been raised to help cover Wyatt’s medical expenses. A total of 246 donors have chipped to defray expenses.  St. Jude’s covers costs associated with treatment and family travel.  

The New York Daily News called it “a fairy tale surprise from community members.”

 Wyatt was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer on Nov. 15 after feeling sick and suffering headaches. He underwent surgery to remove part of a tumor in his brain.His parents, Zach and Corissa of Fallon, received approval from St. Jude’s Children’s Research in Memphis, Tenn., for further treatment.  Before Wyatt and his mother left, they were invited to what turned out to be a going-away party involving his kindergarten classmates. The big surprise came when two horses elaborately made up as unicorns arrived. Wyatt got to ride a unicorn, a dream come true, thanks to Jennifer Nielsen, one of Wyatt’s classmates. She speckled two of her ranch horses with colorful chalk and used paper towels to create horns associated with the mythical creatures known for their magical powers.Terry Mayor Rolane Christofferson says Prairie County has a long history of lending assistance and comfort to friends and neighbors during tough times.

When longtime local residents Sherm and Sharon Fluss lost their home to a fire, Terry townfolk rallied around them. When newcomers Josh and Maui lost their home, a community fundraiser helped them buy a trailer house.

“The community has always come to the aid,” said Christofferson.

She cited the efforts of Vicki Siegle Lindvig, who spearheads “a lot of fundraisers for people and organizations in need. A few years ago we had to make some major repairs at the pool and the whole community came together and we raised the money to keep the pool open.”Lindvig said the annual St. Patty’s corn beef and cabbage dinner and a Yippee Days meal have been fundraising mainstays..

 She has seen both sides of a community coming together in times of crisis.

When her son, Kristian Lindvig, was injured in a work-related fall, he suffered severe brain trauma and underwent a brain craniotomy. He was hospitalized for a month and required three months of therapy. He was out of work for four months.

“There was a benefit for him and his family,” she said. “We had our shop burn down in February of 2017. They had a benefit for us.”

Jody Haidle heads the Prairie County Cares program “which helps families enjoy a brighter Christmas,” said Christofferson.

The Prairie County Clinic also provides a similar service for the residents of the nursing home, she said.  

Rancher Rob Reukauf, longtime fire coordinator out on Cherry Creek, has seen volunteerism at its best. “Neighbors drop what they are doing at any hour and rush to help save structures.” Not just “big-hearted friends,” he said, but strangers as well show up and pitch in.

You can send get-well cards to Wyatt at: Wyatt Haas, 350 North Third Street, Memphis, TN 38105. Donations can be made by going to GoFundMe.com. Updates on Wyatt are available by Googling “fundraiser for Zach Haas.”