Poker run to help Coal Twp. child
RANSHAW - A local motorcycle group will spend Saturday raising money for a Coal Township boy suffering from a rare kidney disease.
The Bikers for Braidyn poker run, hosted by the Sinister Kings, will help eight-year-old Braidyn Kern and his family pay for costs incurred from the medical treatment he receives for IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger's disease.
The disease, which has no known cause, occurs when the body secretes too much of a certain protein. The protein builds up in the kidneys, resulting in pain, lethargy, discolored urine and mood swings. No known cure exists, and many with the disease go into kidney failure.
Braidyn first showed signs of Berger's following a bout of mononucleosis that struck during Christmas when he was seven years old. By February, his urine had become the color of grape juice.
When the doctor's office called with the lab results, Braidyn's mother, Erica, was so alarmed she dropped the phone.
"That was our worst case scenario," she said.
A biopsy of one of Braidyn's kidneys showed it was at least 40 percent damaged.
Braidyn's condition was stabilized with a number of medications, including steroids. He still suffers from flare ups, which can occur at any time and vary in severity.
"He can go into kidney failure at any time," said Braidyn's father, Chris.
If Braidyn goes into kidney failure, he may have to have a transplant.
An attack in January left him unconscious and unresponsive. Braidyn's parents quickly rushed him to the emergency room.
"It was very scary," said Erica.
Adding to the difficulties of caring for an ill child are financial woes: Chris is currently on medical leave from his job at Great Dane Trailers due to an injured shoulder. He has been off for approximately six weeks.
Prior to his employment at Great Dane, both Chris and Erica were unemployed for three years.
Erica has continued to be a stay-at-home mom. She said she has tried to work while Chris was employed, but it became too difficult to manage her son's illness.
Additionally, the couple's other son, Jaidyn, who is 17 months younger than Braidyn, has had several health issues, including a recent bout of acute adenoiditis and tonsilitis. He has had his adenoids and tonsils removed.
"We really don't have money," said Erica.
One of the financial issues Erica hopes to resolve with the funds raised from the poker run is purchasing a vehicle to use when driving Braidyn to doctor's appointments.
The family is currently without a vehicle, and Braidyn's local kidney doctor began an indefinite leave a few months ago. Erica said she is searching for a new doctor that suits him, but insurance stipulations and a lack of area specialists mean Braidyn may have to travel to Williamsport, Philadelphia or Maryland for medical care.
Erica said she has no expectations for how much money she hopes Bikers for Braidyn will raise, but her family has been hard at work soliciting sponsors for prizes and selling apparel.
Erica said she's already grateful, not just to the Sinister Kings for Saturday's event, but for community supporters who have helped her son live as much of a normal life as possible. She cites a group of boosters who purchased an $80 kidney belt for Braidyn so he could play tackle football without fear of another player crashing into his kidneys.
"He had a blast," said Erica.
Bikers for Braidyn: A Poker Run and Celebration Benefiting Braidyn Kern, A Brave Young Soul Diagnosed with IGA Nephropathy, kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at RCA Grounds, Ranshaw. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and costs $20 per rider and $5 per passenger. Passengers can play a hand of poker for an additional $5, and non-riders can attend the benefit for $15. The benefit celebration, which will have food, drinks, music, raffles and games, begins at 4:30 p.m.