By Mary Mason
When Kiefer and Jordan’s toddler son, Parker, began acting lethargic and unlike himself, the parents took him to the doctor to find out what was wrong. After several rounds of ear infections that he was not able to recover fully from, the parents as well as the doctors were stumped.
Not taking no for an answer, the family and medical staff continued to dig deeper. Near the beginning of August, Parker, who will turn two in October, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Parker is currently undergoing treatments at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. Kiefer says he is impressed by the team of people that has been assigned to his young son. “Everyone is very compassionate. You can tell they are very caring people; this is not just a job for them.”
When the diagnosis was first issued, family, friends, and members of the community joined together to form “Parker’s Army.” Supporters united under the hashtag #ParkerStrong and have used that message to help spread awareness through social media.
The theme and sentiment has caught on and spread throughout the community, and far beyond.
Kiefer is a long time Chicago Cubs fan. Near the beginning of their process of fighting the disease, the family reached out to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. To their surprise, Rizzo reached back to them.
The family received a letter from the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. In the letter, Rizzo discusses his personal battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008. Rizzo encouraged Parker and his family to keep a positive attitude as they continue to fight. In addition to the words of encouragement, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation included a check to help offset medical bills.
A family friend has established a GoFundMe account, which has continued to grow. The donations have come from friends and family as well as strangers. The funds collected will be used to help offset the family’s medical expenses as well as living expenses while Parker is in the hospital. Jordan is a fulltime nursing student, and Kiefer is spending both day and night at the hospital with Parker. Kiefer says he lost his job due to the extended time off, though he would not change anything and is grateful to be able to spend the time with his son.
For more information on the GoFundMe account, or to donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/2jn4he38.
Kiefer’s brother Justin says that he hopes the attention that Parker has been experiencing will be able to benefit other children and families along the way. “Really it is about bringing awareness to leukemia and how it can affect families.”
The family is asking for people to visit bethematch.org to find out if they are a possible candidate to donate bone marrow that can help other children or families who are in the same position as they are.