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Group of local kids raise over $5,000 for Rigby girl with rare disease, brain tumor

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Mikyla “Kyla” Ringel | Courtesy Josh Hatfield

RIGBY — Mikyla “Kyla” Ringel knows that having a good group of friends can make tough times, less challenging.

For the past four years, 27-year-old Kyla and her younger sister have been members of the War Bonnet Junior Posse, an Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation program for kids and teenagers that lets them practice and compete on horseback.

But due to a rare disease, Kyla doesn’t get to participate in the same way the other riders do.

“She’s my helper,” says Josh Hatfield, the program’s instructor. “She’s the first one to raise her hand (to help).”

At the age of three, Kyla was diagnosed with Proteus syndrome, a condition that’s characterized by excessive growth of a part or portion of the body, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But the diagnosis wasn’t one that doctors easily made. It took a geneticist at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City to do extensive research, plus a biopsy of Kyla’s growths on her feet, before she was told she has Proteus.

“The biggest challenge has been that nobody knows anything about it,” Kyla’s mom, Christy Ringel, explained. “The biggest challenge has been finding doctors that will actually treat her.”

This past spring, Ringel told Hatfield that doctors discovered Kyla has a brain tumor — something that Ringel says isn’t common with the syndrome. The tumor is above Kyla’s left eye and it’s wrapping itself around her optical nerve. As a result, it’s starting to cause Kyla to go blind and give her major headaches.

Courtesy Josh Hatfield

A 16-hour surgery has been scheduled for Oct. 9 at the University of Utah to hopefully have the tumor removed without causing her to lose her vision. But Christy — a single mom — will need to be with Kyla during that time, and her job doesn’t offer paid time off or sick leave.

After hearing the situation the family is in, Hatfield talked to the group of about 15 riders in the War Bonnet Junior Posse about what’s going on. They decided to do a fundraiser and sell raffle tickets with proceeds going to Kyla and her family.

“I’m blessed because I have such a good group,” Hatfield says. “They’re a team. … They’re all family. … It’s awesome to be able to have them at my disposable, you could say, for things like this.”

A few local businesses donated to the fundraiser such as Scotty’s True Value And Carquest, The Gun Shop, Vickers Western Stores and Bath and Body Works. With the help of the community, the kids raised a little over $5,000.

At the end of the year party on Saturday, they presented the family with the check. Not only is Hatfield proud of the work his group did to show their support for a family in need, but Christy said the funds have already been a blessing.

“I’m not a real emotional person, and they had me crying on Saturday,” Ringel mentioned. “To have people support her in that way has been something that we haven’t really had in our life all that much. The kids have taken her in as one of their own, and they don’t treat her any different.”

Although the fundraiser has ended, donations can still be made to the Ringel family by contacting Hatfield at (208) 360-2244.

The poster board for the fundraiser for the Ringel family. | Courtesy Christy Ringel

Our attorneys tell us we need to put this disclaimer in stories involving fundraisers: does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries.