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Wendy Reuer, Published November 01 2010

T-shirts for Tyler

Kasey Schroeder’s little brother, Tyler, is only 2 years old but is recovering from his third open heart surgery.

Tyler Schroeder was born in August 2008 with a rare form of congenital heart disease called hypoplastic right heart syndrome. Only one heart ventricle was functioning, causing constricted blood flow to his lungs, thus depriving them of oxygen.

The disease is only detected 50 percent of the time. Heart failure is possible if it isn’t.

The Schroeder family, Tyler and Kasey, along with parents Moe and Rob of Arthur, N.D., has since spent a great deal of time in Twin Cities hospitals, where the ventricles in Tyler’s heart were repaired. His first surgery was only months after birth. On Wednesday, Tyler successfully underwent a four-hour surgery to complete what is known as a Fontan circulation system, which will help his heart, body and lungs finally work together although he still only uses half of his heart.

There will always be a risk of heart failure for Tyler, but he may be out of the operating room for some time after recovering from Wednesday’s surgery.

Throughout the past two years, the Schroeders’ hometown of Arthur and surrounding communities have pitched in to help, sponsoring fundraisers and donating money as the family shuttled back and forth to the Twin Cities and Fargo for doctor appointments.

And they’re at it again. Kasey, a sixth-grader at Northern Cass School, and five of her friends decided they wanted to do something more to help.

A T-shirt sale for Tyler turned into a way to give to the Ronald McDonald House, which has given so much to the family already.

“Her friends came to her with the idea of fundraising for Tyler,” said Kasey’s mom, Moe Schroeder. “I told her that it was a great idea but that they should fundraise in his honor and give back to a group that has helped us, like Ronald McDonald House.”

The Schroeder family has been staying at a Twin Cities Ronald McDonald House while Tyler recovers.

“Surgery did go well. He is ahead of the game as far as recovery time,” Moe Schroeder wrote in an e-mail from the Twin Cities.

Crysta Wagner, Northern Cass principal, said she’s proud of the youngsters who have stepped up to participate in the fundraiser.

“The desire and drive to help others – I think that is something that every school strives to instill that,” Wagner said.

Lime-green shirts were sold to fellow classmates and school staff for $10 each.

As of the weekend, about 20 T-shirts had been sold, raising nearly $200 for the Ronald McDonald House.

More information

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530