Spring Grove family casts for cures

SPRING GROVE – Christie Mendlik knew something was really wrong.

Her 3-year-old daughter Nicole was getting bruises in places where kids didn’t normally get bruises like her belly and back, and she was bruising extremely easily.

The diagnosis was severe aplastic anemia, an autoimmune disorder where her bone marrow isn’t making enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to replace the naturally dying ones.

Nicole, now 6, can’t get a bone marrow transplant because they haven’t found a match, and after a relapse last September, she’s participating in a clinical study at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

The Mendlik home was still decorated in “Welcome Home” signs made by Nicole’s older sister, Rachel, 7, Thursday afternoon, the day after Nicole and her mother got back from follow-up at NIH.

It seems the treatment is working at least partially, and Nicole hasn’t needed blood transfusions like she normally does.

“It’s hard to watch your kid go through things like that,” said her father, David Mendlik. “That’s probably the hardest thing, I guess, but she’s tough. I think that helps us even being that she handles it the way she does.”

The relapse has also meant the Mendliks had to pull Nicole out of her kindergarten class at Spring Grove Elementary School only two months into the year because her low white blood cell count means her immune system isn’t as strong.

They’ve gotten used to always using hand sanitizer and keeping Nicole away from other kids when they’re sick.

But with tomorrow always being a question mark, the Mendliks are determined to bring as nice as possible of a day to Spring Grove, Christie Mendlik said.

They along with some family members, other local families and the Cheri Amore Memorial are hosting a fishing event from noon to 4 p.m. May 3 at the Spring Grove Hatchery Park called Casting for Cures.

There will also be a trackless train ride, a princess meet and greet, bounce houses, face painting, crafts, a petting zoo and a silent auction.

Proceeds from the event will go to Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, which donates primarily to the Midwest Children’s Cancer Center, located at the Medical College of Wisconsin, to help children with cancer and other blood-related disorders.

The event is for kids ages 2 to 18 years old and is free. Kids under age 16 do not need a fishing license. Limited equipment will be available to borrow.

In addition to random giveaways, there will be a prize for the biggest fish caught as well as a 50-50 raffle. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

More information is available at www.castingforcures.com, where donations also can be made.

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