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Local school raising money for 6-year-old student battling leukemia

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ISLAND PARK — Students and staff at a Fremont County school are doing what they can to raise money to help pay medical expenses for a six-year-old student fighting leukemia.

Rylan Reyes attends Island Park Charter School as a first-grade student and was diagnosed with leukemia on Sept. 17. He is being raised by a single mother and has a three-month-old sibling.

“I’m a mom and I’m also a nurse. It’s just been such an emotional, stressful, crazy situation right now. I’ve processed it. I just can’t let myself break down,” said Jessica Arredondo, Rylan’s mother.

Currently, Rylan is on a two-year treatment plan for his leukemia and doctors have told Arredondo that her son’s cancer is very aggressive. She takes her son back and forth between Island Park, Salt Lake City and Rexburg for treatments.

“He’s just such a happy-go-lucky kid. He loves playing with dinosaurs and he likes to be outside but right now with his energy, he’s lost so much muscle in his legs, he can’t even go upstairs and his room is upstairs so he is staying downstairs right now,” she said. “He’s just been really tired and a lot of the things that he could do before, he can’t do now, so it upsets him every now and then. He wants to be a normal kid just like anybody else.”

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Rylan Reyes with a dinosaur cake | Courtesy Jessica Arredondo

Staff and students at Island Park Charter School have put together a fundraiser called, “Reading for RYLAN: Read-a-thon at Island Park Charter School.” Students have been reading to raise money to help Rylan. Each student has a daily reading goal to meet and they are asking for pledges from friends, family members and the community. Each time a student meets his or her daily reading goal, they will earn the amount pledged by their sponsors.

“Mom’s got a lot going on so we are just trying to help out the family. It hit us all pretty hard. This is a really small school so everybody knows him and everybody loves him, he’s a great kid,” said Connie Day, executive director at Island Park Charter School.

Day said the Read-a-thon will last 30 days. They have already started it and it will go until Nov. 16. Day said they will collect pledges until Nov. 29.

She has been helping Rylan keep up with school. He comes in at least twice a week after school when no kids are around and they sanitize everything for him.

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Rylan Reyes | Courtesy Jessica Arredondo

“He’s just excited about learning and wants to keep learning and that’s pretty amazing to me because he is going through a lot right now,” Day said.

Arredondo explained to EastIdahoNews.com she is so grateful to the school and the community for helping Rylan through this difficult time.

“The school is amazing. This community has really stepped up and has been absolutely amazing with their thoughts, their prayers, their support. It’s just such a great feeling that we live here and that we get to be in such a great community,” she said.

Day said that if anyone wants to donate in any way, they can contact the school by calling (208) 558-4727 or emailing islandparkelementary@gmail.com. Day said they will present all of the money they have raised for Rylan next month on his birthday when he turns seven years old.

Arredondo wants others to know too that if something doesn’t seem right with your health, to get it checked out as soon as possible.

“This was honestly a feeling that my mom had that we started noticing with Rylan. All it took was him having bruising for us to be like, ‘You know what? He needs to go and get checked’ and thank God my mom pushed that,” she said. “That was how he got diagnosed. This is not something I want on any child or anyone at all to go through.”

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Rylan Reyes with his mother Jessica Arredondo | Courtesy Jessica Arredondo
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