Benefit aims to defray family’s medical costs related to sons heart condition
On Saturday, people will gather at the Stillwater VFW Post No. 323 to support a little boy and his family who’ve traveled a tough road.
Cameron Ulrich is a six-and-a-half-year-old first grader. A good reader who likes math and loves school, he plays video games and likes swinging on the swings at recess. While his dad describes him as a happy, smiley and polite child, Cameron has fought an uphill battle lately. He has a serious congenital heart defect and is currently in heart failure awaiting a heart transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
“We’ve known since before birth that he had a heart defect and he was very healthy until about a year ago. We’ve always thought that he’d need corrective surgery, but he started having heart failure before we could do something about it,” said Cameron’s dad, Rob Ulrich. “He’s had a pacemaker for his whole life. We went to Boston this summer for a resynchronization surgery to help the heart function better but now we’re waiting at the Mayo for a transplant since that surgery didn’t work out as well as we’d hoped.”
Cameron and his parents have been in Rochester for about three months and they have traveled from the hospital to Stillwater to give Cameron’s big sister, Sydney, a sense of normalcy in her life.
“She’s just a great big sister and they’re very close,” Rob Ulrich said. “And they’re always wanting to play together. It’s been hard on her too not being able to see him all the time.”
According to his CaringBridge site, Cameron was placed on the transplant list Oct. 22 and has been waiting for more than 84 days. His status is 1A which applies to patients who must stay in the hospital and require IV drugs, use a heart assist device, a ventilator or have a life expectancy of a week or less without a transplant. Status 1A patients have the highest priority on the transplant waiting list.
The benefit, organized by Cameron’s aunt, Lisa Flach, and some of the family’s friends, hopes to defray medical, lodging and travel costs for the family.
“We just want to be able to defray some medical-related costs and not have to worry about that part of it too much,” Rob Ulrich said. “There’s more than enough to stress out about right now and if we can get some funds to help with medical expenses it would be a big blessing for us all.”
But the ultimate blessing for the Ulrich family right now would be to have Cameron get his new heart.
“I think the one thing we’re seeing more of is to remind people again that organ donation is one of the biggest things you can do for someone else. It doesn’t matter where something comes from, if you know that you’re giving someone an opportunity to make something good out of a bad situation it can help exponentially. There are people all over, and those we’ve met in Boston and Rochester that are waiting for a transplant personalizes that. I hope people remember to think about that when those decisions come to them,” Rob said. “No matter what the outcome is for Cam the experience of sitting here and waiting for a transplant is tough. hundreds of thousands of people from a variety of places all need the same thing and knowing how hard it is for us,I feel for each one of those people.”
Although the Ulrichs are unable to attend the benefit due to concerns about germs for Cameron, they hope to figure out a way to Skype from Rochester and thank everyone who’s supports them at Saturday’s event.
“We have a lot of really helpful people in our corner,” Rob Ulrich said. “You see, no one asks for help, but to see everyone step up and do things for us as we need them has been just fantastic and we really appreciate it.”
All proceeds from the evening will go toward the Cameron Ulrich Benefit Fund. A bake sale and silent auction will also take place at the event. Those who can’t make the benefit but would like to donate to the fund can stop by First Bank and Trust locations in Stillwater, Bayport, and Oak Park Heights. Tickets to the event can be bought in advance or at the door.
If you go
What: Benefit for Cameron Ulrich
Where: Stillwater VFW Post 323, 5880 Omaha Ave. N, Stillwater
When: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $15 and includes dinner, to purchase tickets in advance call Lisa at 651-492-6857; for more information www.caringbridge.org/visit/cameronulrich