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Benefit set for Leopold to offset medical expenses

A special event has been scheduled to benefit Carrie Leopold and her family on Sunday, Oct. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Olivet Lutheran Church, 1330 S. Univ. Dr., Fargo.

The evening will consist of a silent auction and baked goods sale, sponsored by Community Presbyterian Church members in West Fargo and Olivet Lutheran parishioners in Fargo. Among the auction items will be a Ford Mustang pedal car, sports memorabilia, limited edition collector's items, hand made quilts, plus much, much more.

Leopold, from West Fargo, has been struggling with the chronic effects of Crohns Disease for 3 ½ years, first diagnosed in January of 2004. Crohns is an autoimmune disease believed to be genetically linked, whereby the immune system fails to recognize what is foreign and what is part of the digestive tract. Consequently, it launches an attack whereby a chronic inflammation occurs. The white blood cells that attack an area such as the colon or small bowel continue to do so until ulcerations or bowel injury occurs. Some of the symptoms may include severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, fevers, vomiting, and malnutrition.

Since being diagnosed, Leopold has experienced a number of bouts that medicine typically controlled, but following her last pregnancy and the birth of her daughter six months ago, the illness spiraled out of control. Leopold was admitted to MeritCare in Fargo and then transported by ambulance to Abbott Medical Center in Minneapolis, where surgeons as a last resort removed her colon and an illiostomy was performed. This was the first of many surgeries that lie ahead. The next of two additional surgeries is expected to take place the end of this month, a process that will reverse the first surgery, utilizing a portion of Leopold's small intestine so she no longer requires an ostomy bag.

At the present, Leopold is at home, holding her own and recuperating, feeling a little stronger each day, trying to get her daily routine back to as normal as possible.

As a result of her illness, Leopold and her husband, Derek, are facing extensive medical and travel expenses, as well as lost income. She is a graduate student in Biological Sciences at North Dakota State University, and an adjunct instructor of anatomy and physiology at North Dakota State School of Science, Wahpeton. Derek is employed at Midwest Concrete in Moorhead. They are the parents of four children, Nicholas, 14, Amy, 10, Isaac, 2, and Lydia, 6 months.

Leopold said it is the love and support of family and friends that have helped see her family through this medical crisis. "The people from our church and family have been wonderful, all pitching in wherever needed. My family doesn't live in the area, but Derek's does and they too have been just wonderful in helping out. Everyone at the church has also been just fabulous bringing meals to the house when I was hospitalized and providing rides for our children to activities, so they had some sort of normalcy. That has helped us immensely and meant so much."

That kindness and caring continues this weekend, with the special fundraising event. On that note, organizers are seeking the support of the community and local businesses for donations to aid in the benefit. Those wishing to contribute items for the silent auction, are asked to drop them off at Olivet Lutheran Church on Oct. 7, between 2:30 and 5 p.m., or call Jennifer O'Dell at 701-866-3065 or Carol Sterup at 701-293-6603, to have them picked up.

Those who won't be able to attend the event, but who would like to make a donation can do so by mail to: Gate City, c/o Carrie Leopold Benefit, 1119 9th St. E., West Fargo, ND 58078 or by stopping by any Gate City location.