Raising funds to help Hayes student

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 Members from the art community in Grove City are holding a fund raiser for 11-year-old Ali Kappes who has a rare medical condition. The event, held on Feb. 16 at Grandstand Pizza, will raise funds to assist the girl’s family with mounting medical bills.

Allison "Ali" Kappes is an ordinary 11-year-old girl. She likes to play basketball and attend class, sixth grade, at Hayes Intermediate School. It is her rare, and potentially deadly, medical condition that has community members rallying to her side.

It all started with an otherwise ordinary visit to her father’s house. Jerry Kappes noticed a knot, a bump protruding behind his then 8-year-old daughter’s right ear. He then made a phone call to his ex-wife, Jenny, Ali’s mother. Thus began an unforeseen journey, an emotional roller coaster of a ride – evoking fear, pain and hope.

Doctors at National Children’s Hospital diagnosed the mass as an aneurismal bone cyst.

"It’s where a mass of blood vessels actually replaces bone tissues," explained Jacki Kline, Kappes grandmother and registered nurse. She said the condition usually manifests in other areas of the body and, although quite serious, is readily treated. Her granddaughter’s case, however, is quite rare.

"It’s in her skull," Kline said. "Doctors had never seen the condition inside the skull anywhere in the world. They originally told us that they had no treatment."  

No treatment meant that the condition would rob Kappes of her hearing and sight. Ultimately, without medical intervention, she would die.

The family credits hospital staff for saving Ali’s life to date. Dr. Edward Kosnik, the head neurologist, and Dr. William Shiels, the chairman of radiology, pioneered treatments to reduce the mass and its impact on Kappes’ brain. Each entry into the skull is high risk.

Treatment leaves the young girl vulnerable to infection, brain damage, and a host of other life-threatening complications. The effectiveness of these efforts, as monitored by CAT scans and MRI’s, varies.

Currently, Kappes is in a good place. She has returned, with some precautions, to the sports that she loves and her family is breathing a bit easier.

"You discover how good people are," said Kline. "People are there for you, so willing to help. It’s been so hard but it’s brought us closer to each other and to the reality of God in our lives."

She added, "Jenny is so strong. She has to be."

Of course, there’s the looming reality of staggering medical bills. That is why her grandfather, Ray Kline, a retired professor from the Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD), is coordinating a fund raiser to help alleviate mounting financial pressures.

A live auction of fine art is slated for Feb. 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Grandstand Pizza’s Broadway location. The auction features the work of some of the artists on staff at CCAD as well as pieces from artists around central Ohio – at affordable prices. Local comedian Dawn Holley will serve as the auctioneer. Ray Kline expressed appreciation to Holley, Grandstand Pizza and Rebecca Sommer of Sommer House Gallery for their assistance in coordinating the event.

If you would like to donate artwork or make a financial contribution to assist the Kappes family, contact Ray Kline at 875-2423.

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