Benefit brunch for Drew

Friday, September 5, 2014
(Photo contributed) Drew O'Bleness and his fiancÚ Kelsey Sitzmann pose for a picture. O'Bleness was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia June 16. A benefit brunch is planned for Sunday at St. Joseph Church Hall, in Le Mars. Proceeds will be used for treatment costs.

LE MARS -- A benefit, for the fiancÚ of a Le Mars native, diagnosed with leukemia will be Sunday in Le Mars.

Drew O'Bleness, 23, is the fiancÚ of Kelsey Sitzmann.

Sitzmann is a former Le Mars resident who graduated from Gehlen Catholic High School in 2008.

The benefit will be a breakfast burrito brunch at St. Joseph Church Hall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

At the brunch, the Sitzmann family, who organized the benefit, will be selling chances to win cash prizes of $2,000, $1,000 and $500 in a drawing that will take place at 12:30 p.m.

A $500 donation gets the donor 20 chances to win, $100 buys three chances to win and $50 buys one chance to take home a cash prize.

O'Bleness was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia June 16 while in Sioux Falls, S.D., on vacation, according to Sitzmann.

The couple had been living in Charleston, S.C. for a year before O'Bleness received the diagnosis.

After that, Sitzmann said they decided to move back to South Dakota.

"I always wanted to see South Carolina and Charleston and it was everything I ever dreamed of. So, we loved it but when he got diagnosed it was just easier for us to be closer to home," Sitzmann said.

After the initial diagnosis, O'Bleness spent nine days receiving treatment designed to lower his white blood cell count in Sanford Medical Center, in Sioux Falls.

Since that time, O'Bleness and his fiancÚ have been researching various treatments and attempting to maintain a healthy lifestyle while preparing for the next step in his treatment.

That will take place at a medical clinic in Reno, Nev., at the end of the month, Sitzmann said.

Sitzmann said she believes O'Bleness will get the best care under Dr. James Forsythe, a homeopathic doctor, not only for O'Bleness' illness but also to expedite his recovery.

"He does the integration of both conventional medicine and alternative methods as well, to get the best results," Sitzmann said.

The treatment is from three to six weeks and can cost between $40,000 to $50,000, most of which is not covered by insurance, according to an event poster.

Sunday's benefit is part of a campaign to help raise the money for the treatment and to help O'Bleness and Sitzmann financially during the time in treatment and recovery.

The young couple was due to be married in February but because of the illness, wedding planning has become a secondary priority, according to Sitzmann.

"Right now we are concentrating solely on health and recovery and I'm doing wedding stuff here and there but it's definitely put on hold for a little bit. We'll get there, it's something for us to look forward to, which is awesome," Sitzmann said.

Free-will donations of any amount are welcome at the benefit.

Donations can also be made by mailing a check, payable to "Drew O'Bleness Benefit Fund," to Tanya LaBahn at 427 N. Royal Troon Dr., Dakota Dunes, S.D., 57049.

People can also make donations at the website, www.giveforward.com.

Search for "Help Drew O'Bleness Beat Cancer" on the site.

Donations made on the website will continue to be accepted through Oct. 12.

People wishing to donate may also contact BreAnne Rohe at breannerohe@gmail.com.

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