Brave the Shave Honorees
The kids are truly the reason behind Brave the Shave. We want to celebrate their strength and bravery together.
Do you know of a child who battled cancer, or who is currently undergoing treatment? With parental permission, we would like to honor him or her at our event along with our other Brave the Shave honorees. Please contact Taner Ohlsen at 701-527-7013.
For Brave the Shave Honoree Kids and Families
If you are a Brave the Shave honoree family with a request, please fill out the Brave the Shave Request Form to be considered for support from the Brave the Shave Family Fund and/or Bismarck Cancer Center Foundation.
Get to Know Some of our Honorees
Zakk Arenz, 13-years-old, from Mandan, ND. Diagnosed with medulloblastoma on January 14, 2016 and completed traditional treatment on November 25, 2016. Though standard treatment is finished, he still continues weekly preventative treatments as directed by his oncology team. Zakk’s course of treatment consisted of surgery to remove the tumor, proton radiation in Florida and chemotherapy in Minneapolis. He has been considered “in remission” for two years, but he continues to have scans done every six months. He is now in eigth grade and has been active in tennis, golf, trap shooting, and swimming. Zakk’s brother, Ezra will be shaving this year. His fundraising page can be found here.
Leighton Backhaus, 12, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age four. Leighton has been in remission for four years and is currently checked every year. He is in the fifth grade and deals with the lasting effects of “chemo brain.” It causes him to have a difficult time retaining and recalling information. He also has drop foot, which is a side-effect of Vincristine, a commonly used chemotherapy. This type of neuropathy causes him to walk heavily and makes running difficult. Leighton loves showing his animals, hunting, studying birds, and he has dreams of starting a chicken hatchery someday. His larger plan is to run a farm when he grows up.
Oskar Binkard, four-years-old, of Fargo, ND. Diagnosed with B-CELL leukemia on November 6, 2017, three weeks prior to his third birthday. One week after his initial diagnosis it was found through genetic testing that Oskar has a genetic mutation on his Jak 2 gene which caused his leukemia to be very aggressive. With medication, his mutation has been able to be kept under control. His last two scans for the mutation have both been negative. On February 16th, 2017 Oskar’s family received the great news that he was in remission after completing the first two phases of treatment. He has been handling treatment beautifully so far. He continues to fight and will continue the maintenance phase of his treatment for the next two years. Oskar is hilarious and brightens a room with just his presence. He loves to dress up as characters from his favorite series, Star Wars, and he can regularly be found chasing hospital staff in his Chewbacca outfit while making wookiee sounds. Oskar is an incredibly optimistic little boy and even on the hardest of days he will look at us a say, “It’s a perfect day.”
Grace Bittner, age seven, from Dickinson, ND. Diagnosed with a Hypothalamic/Optic Glioma at 4 1/2 months-old. Grace was on many different protocols of chemo throughout her first 3 1/2 years of life, just trying to keep the tumor stable or shrink it. She has had two attempts at tumor resections, at age six-months in 2010 and at age 3 1/2 years in 2014. The tumor and surgeries have caused vision impairment, mobility issues, right-sided weakness, delayed development. Also, most of her feedings are done through a feeding tube, she has a drain for fluid build-up in her abdomen and other issues that affect her daily. After her surgery in 2014, she was placed on a MeK Inhibitor that allowed her to make some progress in her healing and gain some strength, but also required countless blood transfusions. After three years, the drug was no longer working and we saw increased growth in the brain tumor, so she was switched to another targeted therapy drug as one of the last hopes in stopping the tumor from growing. She has now been on that drug for a year and has shown progress again after what appears to be some tumor shrinkage. Grace has also slowly been able to gain some of her strength back and continues to AMAZE people everyday with her determination and love This is why she is known as Amazing Grace. The simplest things bring her the most joy and yet, she brings so much joy to those who get to spend time with her. Go Grace Go!
Kali Grace Coffey, forever three and a half, from Menoken, ND. Diagnosed with ependymoma tumor in February of 2013. After a brave 15-month battle, Kali won her fight against cancer and gained her angel wings on May 4, 2014. Kali Grace’s love of Minnie Mouse combined with her desire to share her toys with other children inspired her family to honor her memory by annually doing the Kali Grace and Minnie Mouse Toy Drive at Christmas time. The drive delivers toys during the holidays to children in Bismarck’s two hospitals. You can visit their facebook page, Kali Grace & Minnie Mouse Toy Drive.
Aeryn DeKrey, eight, from Grand Forks, ND. Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and thrombocytopenia on May 14, 2014. She did a bone marrow transplant in October of 2014 and stayed inpatient for just shy of a month. She then switched to outpatient and stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, MN for another month. She has been in remission for three and a half years and now does checkups every six months. Aeryn was able to return to preschool in May of 2016, but it took a long time for her immune system to build up again so she was sick often throughout the next two years. She has been very healthy this school year and is now in first grade. She also battles asthma which is a common side-effect of bone marrow transplant recipients. Like many cancer survivors, treatment has had side-effects emotionally and mentally. Aeryn is in therapy currently for a serious needle phobia and she has had to work on understanding her emotions, such as anger and sadness, and how to control them better. She loves to read books as well as writing and illustrating her own books.
Colton Fougner, age three, of Williston, ND. Diagnosed at 14 months with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma and is currently not on treatment. Colton received six weeks of proton beam radiation at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN as well frequent trips to Bismarck for chemo, scans and bloodwork. He is now cancer-free and continues to do scans every three months.
Karee Jo Garmann, 14, of Watford City, ND. Diagnosed with pluropulmonary blastoma on January 3, 2013 at eight-years-old. After 14 months of chemotherapy and an additional nine-months being cancer-free, she relapsed in December of 2014, resulting in another 11 months of treatment including chemo and radiation. She has now been cancer free for over three years.
The weekend before her last chemo treatment Karee Jo wanted to audition for a chance to go to Florida to act in front of directors, agents, and producers. They discovered that she was very good at it so she began working with acting coaches via Skype for six months. She had a blast! At that time agent’s were calling so her family decided to give her her dream and she and her mother relocated to Los Angeles, CA in December of 2016. Missing life in North Dakota, they recently returned home.
Karee Jo’s vision is to inspire and be a good role model to other kids battling cancer.
Her message is to never give up. She has been in a few films and she’s most proud of her Disney/Pixar documentary “In the Driver’s Seat” on YouTube. It’s an inspirational piece that talks about her battle. She does online school and takes acting classes.
She and her mom try to come home as often as possible, especially in the summer as she also goes to races with her dad and brothers. She even has her own junior dragster and she took Point Championship 2018 at the Junior Dragster in Minot this past summer. This survivor has been busing living life!
Levi Gartner, four-years-old, of Menoken, ND. Diagnosed just prior to his second birthday with stage four high-risk neuroblastoma. Levi did five rounds of chemo then had surgery to remove his primary tumor. The tumor was pressing on his aorta and wrapped around his kidney and doctors were not able to save the kidney. Levi then went through high dose chemo, which brought on near fatal complications. Once recovered from the complications, he did 20 rounds of Proton beam radiation and six months of IV immunotherapy followed by six months of oral immunotherapy. He is currently considered stable and goes to Minneapolis every three months for scans, although he experiencing some bumps in the road related to his adrenal gland and liver, which are all complications from chemo. He continues to get stronger by going to PT, speech and preschool. Levi and his family have created a team to raise money for Brave the Shave. View their page here. Levi’s dad, Joe, is a firefighter in Bismarck who recently purchased a vintage firetruck that he decorated in gold decals to bring awareness to pediatric cancer. It also has the names of the Brave the Shave kids on it. Levi is all boy and loves John Deere tractors, any firetruck and horses. He recently won his first trophy for doing lead line with his sister’s pony, Hogan. He is also an experienced Play-Doh sculptor, demolisher of any cucumber and a cuddler who is known by those around him to give some of the best hugs in the tri-state area.
Brayden Goehring, age 14, of Herried, SD. Diagnosed with Stage 1 localized Burkitts lymphoma on September 28, 2017. Brayden received two rounds of chemotherapy and has been “cancer free” since November of 2017. He is currently checked every three months by his oncology team in Fargo. Brayden is in the eighth grade and is actively involved in band, student council and 4-H where he shows registered Hereford cattle. He also enjoys hunting and fishing. He is a big fan of NDSU athletics and during treatment even received a visit from athletes from the basketball, baseball, track, softball, wrestling, golf and football teams. Even Thundar, the team mascot, came by to meet this fighter.
Kleigha Guthmiller, three-years-old, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with stage II neuroblastoma on June 13, 2016. She currently is not receiving treatment and was approved to have scans at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN every six months rather than every three. Kleigha’s most recent CT scans showed no new recurrence; however, her lymph nodes were slightly more enlarged from the last CT scan done in August of 2017. Doctors will reassess with her next CT that is scheduled for June of 2018 to see if there have been any further changes. She will also have surgery to lift her left eyelid. Kleigha’s dad, Dustin, is shaving again this year. You can donate to his fundraiser here.
Monica Hatch from Sykeston, ND: Forever age 14. Diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma at age 11. Throughout all three years of treatment, Monica continued to play basketball and volleyball saying “I may have cancer, but it doesn’t have me.” She made jewelry and quilts during treatment to keep her fingers flexible and she donated them, along with Christmas and Easter baskets, to the children’s hospital. Monica did a combined total of 62 rounds of chemo and six weeks of radiation. During the last twelve rounds, it was known that nothing more could be done. The tumor had taken over her entire body including her brain and brainstem. It weighed 22 pounds when she passed. She had asked that it be donated to a research center in order to help the next child. Because of her, there is a pediatric palliative care unit at the children’s hospital in Fargo. she didn’t want to die at home, leaving that memory for her little brother. Because of her request, the nurses learned with her how to do palliative care for pediatrics. To this day, children are aided by her courageous acts. She lived her life by the motto of “live each day as it comes to the fullest because God never promised tomorrow.” She proved her commitment to her motto by going fishing in her favorite spot two days before she passed. Monica earned her wings on August 18, 2007.
Aspen Heisler, age 9, from Rugby, ND. Diagnosed at age one. He received two years of chemotherapy/treatment as well as many surgeries. Aspen currently wears a back brace and suffers from scoliosis and damage to his spine from treatment. He will need more surgeries in the future, but Aspen officially entered the survivorship program in June of 2017. He dreams of playing hockey but because of side-effects of treatment, he will not be able to play. Undeterred, he insisted on learning to skate so that he could carry the flag at the Bismarck Bobcats Brave the Shave night. After hours of practice on the ice, he became a Junior Bobcat in March of this year and proudly carried the flag around the entire rink.
Chase Jones, seven-years-old, from Granville, ND. Diagnosed on November 3rd, 2016 with Philadelphia Chromosome positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It started as a sore ankle, but after one trip to the doctor and a steady progression to the point of excruciating pain and not being able to walk, bloodwork revealed he likely had Leukemia. Chase has had many complications during treatment including reactions to Chemo, a seizure with bleeding on the brain, and pneumonia that created an abscess, ultimately resulting in a lobectomy on the lower portion of his left lung. Chase’s bone marrow biopsies have been negative thus far, and all of his oral chemos have been put on hold. He continues to take Gleevac (Imatinib) to suppress the Philadelphia Chromosome. Chase is attending half days of school when possible and is enjoying being at home with his brother and sister. Chase’s dad, Doug, is raising money for the Flagship Event. Click here to view his page.
Haylee Jundt, age 13, from Rugby, ND. Haylee was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 2a with bulky disease on October 23rd, 2018. Since then, she has undergone four rounds of chemotherapy. She had a scan is February of this year that showed “cancer free.” She is currently doing proton beam radiation therapy at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Her love for hockey is large and the immense support of the Jundt’s hockey family has been so appreciated! Haylee is currently in seventh grade and she has continued to play on both of her teams when she is not doing treatment and as a result she has been an inspiration to so many people. She also enjoys playing volleyball and when given a chance to be in the outdoors, she loves hunting, fishing, and camping. Haylee always seems to have a smile on her face and has always seen the positive and had determination, even on her bad days.
Jadyn Keller, age seven, of Harvey, ND. Diagnosed with pre-B-CELL Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Diagnosed on September 23, 2013 at 21 months of age. Jadyn is currently in remission with his last treatment being in November of 2016. After treatment he did an additional six months of IVIG transfusions due to immune issues. After treatment he did an additional six months of IVIG transfusions due to immune issues. Jadyn’s passions are hunting and fishing! He and his dad shave their heads together each year at the Flagship Event. Also, Jadyn will becoming a Big Brother this summer! Jadyn has created his own fundraiser this year for the Flagship Event. View his page here.
Landon LaBine, seven, of Warren, MN. Diagnosed at age two on February 12, 2013 with a Stage 1 Astrocytoma embedded at mid-brain in the brain stem. He had a partial resection surgery allowing for 50% of the tumor to be removed. After 15 months of chemotherapy, Landon went into remission. He relapsed in August of 2016. He completed treatment again in September of 2017, but in February of this year his scans were unstable. Landon continues to fight. He is in the first grade and loves fishing, four-wheeling, snowmobiling, and camping. This sweet child is known for helping everyone around him. He is famous for his hugs and becomes a friend to everyone he meets.
Landon LaVallie, forever 5, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed on Aug 3, 2014 with stage four hepatoblastoma, a very rare tumor that starts in the liver. He had a smile on his face and a giggle in his throat the last nine months he was with us. His giggle was full of life and so contagious. Landon LOVED his Matchbox cars! He loved Justin Bieber since he was two and and went all out when singing his songs. He has four brothers that he enjoyed having by his side, especially his twin who was his constant companion. The thing most people remember about Landon is his happy spirit. A person could never leave a visit with him without getting a hug or a kiss. Landon gained his beautiful wings on June 1, 2015.
William Moran, seven-years-old, from Lincoln, ND. Diagnosed with medulloblastoma on June 25, 2018 at age 6. Medulloblastoma is a form of brain cancer that accounts for 18% of all pediatric brain tumors. After tumor resection, William received 30 radiation treatments and six months of chemotherapy treatments. He just completed treatment on the 13th of March and is now recovering. He is the oldest of four children and loves his brother and sisters. William is an avid Lego builder and dreams of becoming an architect when he grows up. Aside from building with his Legos, he loves Minecraft, hockey, his dog Boe and he can’t wait to play tennis again in the summer. He also intends to do as much fishing and camping as possible just as soon as the weather cooperates!
Jillian Nordsven, five-years-old, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. She was diagnosed at two-months-old and has been in remission for about two years. Jillian is blind in one eye as a result of her cancer, and continues to have check ups in New York City every six months for monitoring of her condition. She enjoys dancing, drawing, playing with her older brother Russell, and spending time with animals- especially her two dogs.
Dash Ohlsen, 11-years-old, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age seven. He completed treatment in May of 2017, rang the bell, and is cancer free! Dash is active in sports including soccer, swimming, cross country, tennis and golf. He dotes on his pet bearded dragon and two dogs, Lola and Fergie. He also enjoys snowboarding with his brother, Chaz, who in the past has been a top fundraiser for Brave the Shave when he shaves his head. Dash’s dad, Taner, will be shaving again this year at the Flagship Event. View his page here.
Cullen Oothoudt, forever age four, from Mandan, ND. Diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor, in November of 2015 just after turning three. The week after Cully’s fourth birthday, his cancer returned. As soon as one birthday was over, he was already planning the next party and he spent many hours discussing how it would all go down. His parents didn’t want to wait an entire year for his actual birthday so he had several “unbirthday parties” in order to carry out all the plans he created. Each unbirthday party always included presents and a cake made to his specifications. Cully passed away on August 6, 2017, one month shy of his fifth birthday. His family honors his memory by continuing to raise funds for Brave the Shave. Visit his parents’ page, here.
Cooper Peterson, five, of Lincoln, ND. Diagnosed with a Bilateral Optic Pathway Glioma on February 26, 2015 when he was ten-months-old. In December of 2015 Cooper’s tumor was upgraded from a Grade I Pylocytic Astrocytoma to a Diffuse Fibrillary Astrocytoma Grade II. After three years of treatment and a lot of tumor growth throughout his brain, he was recently told that there is finally tumor shrinkage. Super Cooper, as he has become known amongst friends and family, may have lost his sight to his tumor, but he has not lost his fight. He battles on and continues his journey. Cooper’s dad, Al, has decided to raise money for Brave the Shave. You can donate to his effort by clicking here.
Silas Rehbein, age six, of Dickinson, ND. Diagnosed with B-CELL Lymphoblastic Leukemia on October 28, 2016. He has at least one year of chemotherapy treatments remaining.
Jiry Rosecrans, 13, from Edmore, ND. Diagnosed with craniopharyngioma, a rare brain tumor on May 4, 2015. Because of the location, surgery was not able to remove much so she had six weeks of proton beam radiation.
It has been a difficult road for Jiry. She deals with frequent headaches, fatigue, somnolence syndrome, hypothalamic obesity, musculoskeletal pain in multiple joints, diabetes insepidous, panhypopituitarism, cognitive disability, adrenal insufficiency, growth hormone deficiency, and hypothyroidism. She is losing her peripheral vision quickly and doctors are not sure what the cause is and won’t risk surgery until she is basically blind. The year and a half of chemo that she received caused kidney damage, an enlarged heart, and weakened blood vessels.
She was life flighted to Fargo on January 1, 2018 and has encountered many obstacles since then. Most of January and February were spent in the hospital. School is mainly done from home although she does attend the school for the blind every few months. Jiry tries to make everyone feel good even though she is the one that needs the pick-me-up. Her passion is figure skating, but because of health issues, she is no longer able to skate. She recently joined Girl Scouts again and enjoyed meeting her goal for selling cookies. When she grows up, she wants to be a massage therapist. For Jiry, the battle continues. Her team page can be found here.
Haley Schallmo, 15, from Dickinson, ND. Diagnosed with Philadelphia + Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in May 2016 at age 12. She is currently in remission from the leukemia but the PH + chromosome has been detectable in her bone marrow biopsies for the last year and a half. Her body is unable to handle the side effects of the chemo so all treatment has been stopped except for her TKI inhibitor (Bosulif) that suppresses the PH chromosome. We are currently just praying this is enough to prevent a recurrence of the leukemia.
Hunter Seifert, age 16, of Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with stage IV alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma in October of 2016. Hunter went through 42 weeks of chemo and was considered cancer free for two months. He relapsed in October of 2017 and went to heaven on February 15 after two and a half year fight. Hunter loves sports at all levels and is a fan of NDSU, the Chicago Cubs, and he even supports the Miami Dolphins during the rebuilding years, which really is every year. His uncle will be shaving in Hunter’s memory. You can donate to Team Hunter here.
Sky Stevens, forever age 4, from Lincoln, ND. Diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a cancerous brainstem tumor, on March 25, 2015. Her family was devastated when told that she would likely only live for nine months. Sky showed her spunk and fighting personality by surpassing all expectations and lived with DIPG for an almost unheard of 31 months. She bravely gained her wings on October 24, 2017. Her family is raising money this year in her memory. If you’d like to donate you can do so by clicking here.
Mia Thinnes, 13-years-old, from Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed on July 8, 2010 at age six with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor. She was also diagnosed at age ten on October 16, 2014 with a thyroid tumor, which was a secondary cancer as a result of the radiation received on the brain tumor. Because of the radiation, Mia had surgery for pediatric cataracts in 2012. She had her thyroid removed and is currently doing well apart from some side effects from treatment, such as slight hearing loss in her left ear. She loves to read and visits the library regularly. Her new favorite thing is books on CD. She’s involved in archery and is excited to enter her first tournament. She continues to have MRI scans annually at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.
Jeffrey Trones, 14, from Williston, ND. Diagnosed in August of 2014 at age nine with Ewing’s sarcoma. He relapsed in December of 2015 at age 11 and has now been in remission for two and a half years, but he continues to receive pamidronate infusions every four months.
Emma Wheeler, forever 14, from Bismarck, ND. Emma was hospitalized in Bismarck on September 17, 2017 with what was thought was just be mono. After repetitive testing, the doctors thought it could be lymphoma and Emma was transported via ambulance to Fargo on the 19th of September. It was there that she was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohystiosytosis (HLH) which is not cancer, but is treated with chemo. HLH is extremely rare & very deadly. After weeks of chemo the Sanford Children’s team wanted to go back to their original thought and on October 26, 2017 in addition to HLH, Emma was diagnosed with aggressive Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL). Emma went through many rounds of chemo, multiple surgeries, and more. She hated bandaids with a passion and at one point was heard down the halls of the PICU screaming for anesthesia just to have one removed. Emma was a character, full of life, humor, smiles and love. On November 8th Emma’s kidneys were failing. We were then life flighted to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Emma was intubated two days later and placed on dialysis. All of her organs began to fail and we knew her journey on earth was over. On November 14, 2017, just 55 days after her original diagnosis, we held Emma one more time as she gained her wings & Heaven became her home.
Kyle White, age four, of Sturgis, SD; formerly of Bismarck, ND. Diagnosed with Wilms tumor stage 4. He is currently in treatment and is handling everything amazingly well. His tumor was found the day after Halloween in 2017. He seemed fine and had a regularly scheduled check-up. His mother asked the doctor about a lump she had noticed on his side.
Kyle had to take a different route than typical treatment plan used with the Wilms tumors. Because his tumor was so large, he had to wait for surgery and chemotherapy was started first to shrink it. He had a successful surgery to remove the Wilms tumor along with one of his kidneys, adrenal gland, and a few lymph nodes. He also received two and a half weeks of radiation to the abdomen and lungs and required another surgery removed the stubborn lung nodules. He completed chemotherapy in July of 2018. CT scans have looked good so far. The plan is for port removal in March of this year. Kyle is dealing with some side effects from treatment, but overall his family is happy with its success and how well he has responded to it.
Kyle has decided that his favorite color is gold which is very fitting. He loves dinosaurs, Lego’s, Play-Doh, and my little ponies. He has gotten back to rough housing with his brothers and is starting to fill out a little more now. He LOVES his nice thick hair he has now too.