The Kryzers make quite the team. Dan’s the “think outside the box” problem solver. Andrea’s the “always find a silver lining” cheerleader. And seven-year old Jax and five-year old Ella energetically play the game with natural instinct and boundless energy.
Truth be told those specialties are key players in the Kryzers’ current game plan. You see, the Kryzers are a cancer/ALS fighting team and the game is a lifesaving game of treatments and medication, procedures and therapies.
Back in March 2009 Andrea was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. Nine months later Dan was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Even as ALS relentlessly robs Dan of strength and stamina, Andrea’s cancer returned last year and metastasized in her bones.
“This was a complete surprise for us,” said Andrea. “We never saw this coming, but for the kids, it’s always been a part of their life – doctor’s appointments and hospitals and surgery, a wheelchair…”
“It’s all they’ve ever known. This is normal to them,” Dan said, completing Andrea’s thought while seated next to her in his wheelchair in the Kryzers’ Ramsey home.
Andrea’s doctors tell her she can live another 15 to 20 years managing the cancer with chemotherapy pills and hormonal therapy and preventing it from spreading outside her bones.
For Dan, the ALS continues to sap the former college football player of strength and movement.
But the Kryzers soldier on, Dan anticipating further disability and working out ways to manage, and Andrea cheering and encouraging her husband – and boosting her own spirits along the way.
“Our kids keep us going,” Dan said. “They’re at the age where they’re figuring out their own journey, too. We’re all figuring it out as we’re going along.”
Andrea talked about the insights and compassion little Jax and Ella have gained as they travel that adventurous journey with their parents.
“Our kids are really in touch with kids with disabilities. They don’t see it as weird or something to be afraid of. To them it’s normal,” Andrea said.
Andrea and Dan “hope they grow up to be really compassionate adults,” she said.
Jax and Ella’s growing up years are sure to be marked by milestones unlike those shared by classmates and neighborhood friends as they witness their dad’s gradual degeneration and watch their mom battle and manage her cancer.
And, of course, along the way the Kryzers face financial challenges that come part and parcel with the battles they wage.
“Having cancer and ALS – it’s not a cheap ride,” Andrea said.
To help ease those financial burdens, friends have planned a Karing for the Kryzers benefit at New Hope Bowl Saturday, May 18, 2 to 9 p.m.
Admission to the benefit is $25 per person (free for children age 10 and younger), available at the door. Admission includes free beer from 2 to 9 p.m. and an Italian Pie Shoppe dinner.
The benefit also includes silent auction items and raffle drawings. Auction bids can be made from 2 to 5 p.m.
The Lost Wheels will perform from 6 to 9 p.m.
Lane sponsorship is available for $500 and includes five free admission tickets and t-shirts as well as your name or your company’s name or picture featured on the lane’s scoring monitor.
Also, a benefit fund has been established and donations to the Jax and Ella Fund Trust are accepted at all Wells Fargo Bank locations.
“We’re two proud, strong, independent individuals, so this is hard for us to accept,” Dan said.
“One of the hardest parts of this whole thing is accepting that help, but we said we would accept it if it all goes to the kids,” Andrea said.
And so, a team of the Kryzers’ friends led by childhood friends Chris Meyer and Pat Meyer “ran with it” and organized the May 18 benefit at New Hope Bowl.
New Hope Bowl is located at 7107 42nd Ave. N.
To learn more about the Kryzers’ journey, to offer support, or to send an encouraging word, visit www.facebook.com/KaringForTheKryzers.
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]