Bows and things for Baby Eli

by dhayes on August 7, 2012

• Montezuma girl makes and sells hair ties and bows to raise money for baby with brain cancer

By J.O. PARKER
joparker@dmreg.com

Montezuma’s Kylee Taylor has never met Baby Eli Karsten, but a connection through Facebook has led the 11-year-old to reach out to the little fellow in a big way.

Kylee, who will be in the sixth grade at Montezuma this fall, started making hair bows and ties this summer because she was bored.

Baby Eli Karsten

After reading about Baby Eli’s fight against brain cancer on the TEAM ELI Facebook page, Kylee turned her boredom into a business venture and has since raised $51 profit from the sell of hair bows and ties, giving all the money to the Karsten family

“I am just amazed she would take her precious summer time to do this for Eli,” said Rachelle Johnson, Eli’s aunt from Montezuma.

And to top that, Kylee was at the Montezuma Farmer’s Market recently and was sitting next to a woman selling garden produce.

Rachelle said the woman asked her what she was selling the hair items for and Kylee told her Eli’s story.

“The woman was so moved that she decided to donate her profits to Baby Eli as well,” Rachelle said. “Again, this woman has never met him (Baby Eli) and doesn’t know his family.”

When asked why she is doing this, Kylee said, “It feels good just knowing that I’m helping him.”

Baby Eli, as he is known, is the son of Adam and Emily Karsten of Cedar
Rapids. Rachelle and Adam are brother and sister. Eli also has a big brother named Jude, who is 8 years old.

Baby Eli was born in September 2011. In late February 2012, his parents noticed Eli’s soft spot was slightly swollen. After visiting the doctor, the Karstens were immediately sent to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, where he underwent further testing. At five months old, Eli was diagnosed with pineoblastoma – a rare, aggressive form of brain cancer.

Kylee Taylor, 11, of Montezuma shows off some of the hair ties and hair bows she created and is selling to raise money for little Baby Eli Karsten, who recently underwent brain cancer surgery at St. Judes in Memphis, Tenn. Kylee learned about Baby Eli through Facebook and decided to make the hair pieces to help the family. Baby Eli, who is from Cedar Rapids, is the nephew of Rachelle Johnson of Montezuma.

In late March, the Karsten family put life on hold, left Iowa and traveled to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Shortly after their arrival, the Karstens learned that Eli’s tumor had nearly doubled in size in less than two weeks.

“Baby Eli immediately started his first round of chemotherapy,” said Rachelle.

In June, world-renowned surgeon, Dr. Frederick Boop, surgically removed the tumor and according to Rachelle, it appears they got 100 percent of it!

Baby Eli continues to undergo chemotherapy and will begin radiation once he turns a year old. The family will need to travel to a sister hospital in Florida for the radiation as the Memphis facility is not currently equipped for infant radiation. The Karsten family has been told to plan on being in Memphis for approximately one year as they fight for Eli.

Rachelle said she is amazed at not only what Kylee is doing, but the outpouring and love and support from total strangers all over the world.

“I started a TEAM ELI private Facebook page back in April and it has almost 1,400 members pulling for Eli,” said Rachelle.

Eli’s theme is b{eli}eve. There have been rubber bracelets, T-shirts and window decals all sold as fundraisers to help Eli.

Rachelle handles all donations for Eli and his family.

Aside from Kylee’s story, there have been numerous other stories like this associated with fundraising for Eli. Following are a few examples.
• A local garage sale raised more than $800.
• A six-year old from Missouri raised about $150 after asking his friends to donate to Eli instead of buying him gifts.
• A teacher in Pennsylvania challenged her co-workers to pay dollars to wear jeans to work one Friday, raising more than $500 for Baby Eli.
• Two pre-teens from Missouri held a bake sale/lemonade stand for Eli, raising approximately $125.
• An Illinois woman recently sponsored six gift baskets dedicated to Eli at a group charity silent auction, raising almost $400.
• A Scentsy fundraiser (home-based candle/warmer company) – local consultant Morgan Watts is donating her profits to Eli
• Thirty-One fundraiser (home-based bag/purse company) – local consultant Angie Hasley is donating her profits to Eli
• Another Thirty-One fundraiser will be coming in October/November
by local consultant Vicki Battreal, who plans to donate her profits to Eli
• A Norwex fundraiser (home-based cleaning products and supplies company) is being planned for later this fall by a local consultant from Grinnell, Val Courter, who plans to donate her profits to Eli
• A Glitterazzi, Etc. fundraiser (a private glitter/bling apparel company from Williamsburg), spearheaded by co-owner Gwendy Ehret, a former resident of Montezuma, is currently taking place, with profits going to Eli.
• Kylee has since started Kylee’s Bows N Things Facebook page where she posts pictures of her hair items and raises awareness of Baby Eli.

Hair ties sell for $3; hair bows sell for $2.50; hair bows with headbands for babies are $5; and hair clips are $1. All profits go to Baby Eli.

“I continue to be amazed at the generosity and love that people have shown for Eli and his family, especially the people from Montezuma,” Rachelle said. “Amazing!”

To learn more about Baby Eli, visit TEAM ELI on Facebook or contact Rachelle via e-mail: rlkjohnson@zumatel.net.

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