Student Spotlight: Fourth grade girl raises money for sister

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – Lyndsay Cyrek is in the fourth grade at Armor Elementary School in Hamburg.  Recently, her class read a story about a boy who was collecting shoes for children in Africa, and then they all had to come up with their own fundraising ideas.

“I had the idea of maybe doing a fundraiser for my sister. She’s 12-years-old and likes to play the piano and the viola. She’s not very active though,” explained Lyndsay.

Her older sister, Caitlyn, isn’t very active because she suffers from a type of Juvenile Arthritis.

The girls’ mother, Lori, explained that with Juvenile Arthritis “there are the joint issues that you would naturally associate with arthritis, but in the childhood version it also affects blood levels. she gets anemic so she’ll get very tired, she’ll get fatigued. Fevers are one of the classic symptoms”.

Lyndsay hates to see her sister not move as well as other children, which is why she decided to organize a walk-a-thon at her school. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from May 6 until May 15, Lyndsay and other students walked laps around the hallways of the elementary for 20 minutes before school.

Lyndsay also did the leg work in creating prizes, by going around to local businesses and asking if they would be interested in donating.  She ended up with a number of gift cards, some Sabres hockey sticks, and a Buffalo Bills football helmet.

Her mom said, “She has amazed me. I didn’t know how strong she was, and she’s had no problems walking into businesses and asking to speak to managers and explaining what she’s doing.”

It’s all worth it for Lyndsay, who has seen her sister go through some difficult times.  She receives treatments regularly, but there is not much research available on some of them.  Mom, Lori Cyrek, says that something as simple as an anti inflammatory might help, but sometimes children with this disease need a much lower dose of chemotherapy drugs because the disease involves the body attacking itself, and those drugs help to partially shut down the immune system.

They don’t know if Caitlyn will ever outgrow the disease, as some children do.  “They have tried to wean her off of her medications, to see if her disease has gone into remission, but she has failed the weans that they’ve tried a few times so we don’t know if it will ever go away,” said Lori Cyrek.

As far as the lack of research is concerned, Lori Cyrek says, “When you’re dealing with seeing your child in pain, or having uncontrolled fevers where you know it might affect their heart, their lungs, their eyes, you feel like you have no choice you need to do something now to help your child and hope that the long-term effects are going to be okay.”

That’s where money from fundraisers, like Lyndsay’s walk-a-thon, becomes very important. It helps fund the current research into these newer drugs that can ease the symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis, and help children, like Caitlyn, do all the things their friends and classmates are able to do.

You can donate to Lyndsay’s fundraiser by clicking here to visit her Walk to Cure Arthritis webpage.

Lyndsay and Lori Cyrek say they are very grateful to her teacher, Miss Antoinette Montagna, as well as Principal, Mrs. Leslie Bennett, for their support, encouragement, and help in making Lyndsay’s wish come to fruition.

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