Jeremy and Kim Ryan and their children, Jack and Makenzie, celebrate Jack’s release into outpatient therapy. Both children were students at Northland Pines School District before being diagnosed with a rare illness and are now home-schooled. Jack loves football, track, baseball and basketball; Makenzie is a budding gymnast. (Submitted photo)

St. Albert Catholic Church, Land O’ Lakes, hosts a fish fry Friday, March 20, with proceeds given to a family in need. This year’s fundraiser will help support the family of Jack and Makenzie Ryan and their parents, Jeremy and Kim Ryan, of Phelps.

The family moved to Eagle River in 2015 from the Racine area. Jack, 12, first began showing signs of illness in January 2019. After multiple hospital stays, many tests and a second opinion from Boston’s Children’s Hospital, the Ryan family was given a diagnosis in April 2019. The determination was HLH (Hemophagocytic lymph histiocytosis). This specific form of the disease has had fewer than 50 diagnosed cases in the last 10 years. The disease creates an overactive immune system that attacks a healthy body.

In the process of finding Jack a bone marrow donor, his sister Makenzie, 11, was tested and found to also carry the disease. The children are being treated at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Jack’s problem compounded when, through the impact of treatments, he contracted Shiga Toxin E. Coli, HUS disease, a subdural venous thrombosis and a host of other complications. After spending 89 days in the ICU and 129 days total in the hospital, he is in outpatient therapy and requires weekly visits to Children’s Hospital for chemotherapy. He is working to heal from this setback and to gain strength to endure the required bone marrow transplant to ultimately cure the HLH.

Makenzie was admitted to Children’s Hospital in September 2019, where she too developed minor complications. However, the medical staff found a bone marrow donor for Makenzie. She received her transplant in late January and remains hospitalized with a long road but a promising outlook for a full recovery.

St. Albert’s fish fry will be March 20, with meals served 5-7 p.m. The menu includes broiled or deep-fried fish, baked beans, potato salad, rye bread and coleslaw. Desserts are homemade and donated by local residents. Carryouts are available. Milk, water and coffee are included. Beer, wine and soda are available at additional cost. There are silent auctions and bucket raffles, and freewill offerings are accepted.

Cost is $12 for ages 12 years old and over; ages 6-11 are $6, and ages 5 and younger are free.

For those unable to attend, St. Albert also accepts tax-deductible donations. Checks can be mailed to St. Albert Church, P.O. Box 237, Land O’ Lakes, WI 54540. Please note “Ryan Family Benefit” on check memo line. Donations of products or coupons for services are welcome and useful in the bucket raffle and silent auctions. Prayers for the Ryan family are appreciated.

Contact St. Albert’s Church with any questions or to volunteer to help with this event, 715-547-3558.