When Bozeman High School senior Leslie Schafer learned her 4-year-old friend Caden Shrauger had a rare form of cancer, she needed to do something to help him.
So she organized a fundraiser that already has raised $650 from about 40 area businesses, she said Thursday.
Today she’s inviting people to come sled the hill in the Gallatin County Regional Park in honor of her young friend. There will be sliding, hot cocoa and just good fun, Schafer said.
“I wanted to do something different for him,” she said. “I wanted my emphasis to be on awareness. And Caden loves to sled. I just want it to be a fun day because, right now, Caden can’t do anything.”
In fact, Caden is in isolation in a small hospital room in Seattle, where he is undergoing a ferocious form of chemotherapy and has a bone-marrow transplant scheduled for Monday. With a severely compromised immune system, Caden can’t leave his room or have contact with other kids in the hospital.
Caden has been fighting neuroblastoma since March. It’s a cancer that affects one in every 100,000 children. Three out of 10 people survive it.
But he’s a fighter, his parents, Pam and Jason Shrauger, say.
On Thursday, Caden was battling “the barfs” but was doing well “considering,” Pam Shrauger said.
But he’ll spend the next month in the hospital, and it’ll be a tough battle.
“Think about it,” Jason Shrauger wrote on in a journal on the website Caring Bridge on Dec. 31, the day before starting this newest round of treatment. “Tomorrow we have to almost kill our kid to kill the cancer enough for us to be able to come back in a couple of months to teach his body to fight off the cancer on its own.”
Jason Shrauger, who is Bozeman’s fire chief, said it seems fitting that Caden started his treatment at the cusp of the New Year.
“At this point, I am not sure what 2013 has in store for us,” he wrote. “But I am sure that I speak for the whole family” when they kiss 2012 goodbye.
Schafer is also looking to the future.
She has wanted to be a nurse for several years and now plans to pursue that goal at Montana State University next year. For her senior English project, she researched and wrote about neuroblastoma. And now she’s set her sights on becoming a pediatric oncology nurse.
“My compassion level has skyrocketed,” she said. “Seeing photos of kids with cancer and learning about all the horrific things these kids go through, it’s just amazing what they can handle.”
When Schafer asked the Shraugers if they needed help, they wanted the money she raised to be donated to children’s cancer research — specifically the Ben Towne Foundation, as Caden requested.
In addition to the money she’s already raised, Schafer will raffle a toboggan with the Shrauger’s oval “FC” symbol, which stands for “fight cancer.” Donations may also be made at the downtown First Interstate Bank, 202 W. Main St., into the Sled for Caden account.