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Family reaches out for son's final days

Cancer victim fought many challenges bravely

Oct. 30, 2012

Tyler Fenninger of Mukwonago was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2009. Now, it appears the journey may be coming to an end for the 20 year old.

Tyler's cancer has been progressing steadily, and doctors have given him 10 to 18 weeks to live. In an effort to pay for hospice care, which will run $300 a day, and for final arrangements, the Fenninger family has started Tokens for Tyler.

The family has been circulating postcards with information about Tyler and how to donate. They are seeking help to provide their son with comfortable care for his final days, and funds to provide him a casket, funeral, burial plot,headstone, etc.

"Tyler's cancer is progressing steadily, and now he has only months left," said his mom, Christine Fenninger. "Due to this and for the need to raise funds quickly, I am going to be selling some of our personal property on Craig's List."

Any help would make a big difference to the family.

Tyler has faced many medical challenges as a result of being born with neurofibromatosis, a rare genetic disorder of chromosome 17 that affects one in 5,000 children. He has faced developmental challenges growing up.

"He's always had something to deal with, some kind of crutch in place that the disease has required from him," explained his mom.

Fenninger fell down the stairs about 3 ½ years ago. His family rushed him to the hospital, where tests revealed a brain tumor, a rare type known as pleomorphic xanthochromic astrocytoma (PXA). He was rushed into surgery, the first of 16 he would undergo over the next few years.

Because the tumor is so close to the brain stem, doctors were never able toremove all of it.Additionally, thetumor cells grow back and take on the same appearance as healthy brain cells, making complete removal impossible.

"He's been rare from the beginning," Christine said of her son.

Over the course of his treatments, Tyler has had to relearn how to walk, talk, eat and essentially function three times.

"Tyler is amazing. I have never seen anyone fight like he has fought," Christine said. "Children have this incredible acceptance of what is happening to them that they don't allow it to consume them."

Christine said that hospice will be Tyler's one chance to have a place of his own. He will be able to determine who comes and goes, and when.

"He's never going to be forgotten," said Christine. "I'm so proud of him. I'm thankful to be the one that was chosen to be his mother."

Pyramax Bank in Mukwonago is collecting donations for the Fenninger family. Stop at any location and tell the teller you'd like to make a donation to Tokens for Tyler.

Having been in a band with Tyler's dad Doug,Mukwonago resident Georgine "George" Kuehl was especially moved by Tyler's story, and spearheaded a benefit to raise money for his final arrangements. On Oct. 20 Kuehl sent out emails to everyone she knew saying, "I don't know what we can do, but we have to do something."

A few emails and a Facebook page later, dozens of people, many of whom have never met the Fenningers, have offered their help. On the Facebook page titled Tokens For Tyler Benefit, a man with the user name Michael Congemi posted a comment stating that "My wife Cynthia and I own Express Care Walk-In Health Clinic in Big Bend. I am an Acute Care NP. If Tyler or any family member needs health care services, we will provide these free of cost to the family to help out."

"The response was overwhelming," Kuehl said. "This is really showing that a lot of people are willing to help without thinking twice."

The event will run from noon until 9 p.m. and will feature live bands all day. Bands include Stereotype and The Mania from Waukesha, Cover to Cover from Mukwonago, The Stage Hoggs from Watertown, and King of Clubs, Roxie Beane, Suicide Kings and Del Rey from Milwaukee.

Activities include 9 Pin Tap, dart and pool tournaments, 50/50 cash raffles, door prizes and a silent auction. Ninety-six players are needed to fill up each 9 pin tap tournament. The Packer Game will begin at noon.

Organizers are still in need of raffle donations of any sort, as well as a grand prize raffle item.

For more information or to donate, please contact Kuehl at georginekuehl@gmail. com.

If you go

What: Tokens for Tyler benefit

Where: Sunset Bowl/Sporties, 333 W. Sunset Dr., Waukesha

When: Noon to 9 p.m. Nov. 18

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