Their child’s life was on the line, so Kara and Alfred Ketley of Geistown were not thinking about money.

But as 3-year-old Elijah Ketley battled cancer in a Philadelphia hospital, the expenses were mounting. Fortunately, most of the hospital bills were covered by medical insurance through Alfred’s employer, Laurel BMW, or a supplemental policy available to young patients’ families.

And residents have stepped up to help with other costs, Kara Ketley said.

“We are so touched and so grateful for everything (the community) has done,” she said. “We don’t take it lightly.”

Heart of the City Jam is the latest benefit for Elijah, scheduled from noon to 9 p.m. July 23 in Lorain Borough Park.

Organized by Jodi Goenner and her local outreach committee at Circuit City, the concert will feature nine local bands.

“At first, the primary expense was travel,” Mrs. Ketley said.

Each 800-mile roundtrip to Philadelphia costs about $80 in gas and tolls. That is not including wear on the vehicles or lodging for additional family members.

Expenses did not end with the trips. Although the treatment seemed to be working, powerful chemotherapy agents were also tearing away at Elijah’s immune system. His environment had to adapt to protect him.

“Infection is the biggest threat for a child on chemotherapy,” Kara Ketley said, recalling how a family they met in Philadelphia lost their daughter to a viral infection.

An attached garage, aging shower stall and musty basement were sending mold and fungus spores into the Ketleys’ Lyndy Street home. It had to be fixed before Elijah could come home.

Any infection involving mold or fungus can be life-threatening for a patient with neuroblastoma, said Dr. Stephan Grupp, Elijah’s physician.

To help the family, volunteers created the Elijah Ketley Cancer Fund, designated for medical-related expenses. Another friend set up the helpelijah.com Web site to share information.

So far, the family has had to tear down the garage, seal the basement and replace the shower stall.

“Just the enclosure,” Kara Ketley said. “The rest of my bathroom is still in bad shape.”

Because the older home is heated through radiators, there was no central duct work to run an air-purification system. The family installed a system that also included central air conditioning. Elijah is also sensitive to sunlight, heat and humidity, Kara Ketley said.

“For some people, those might be luxuries. But those are things we have to have for Elijah,” Kara Ketley said, repeating her gratitude for those who helped pay. The family received letters of medical necessity for each project supported through the IRS-registered fund, she said.

Elijah’s cancer is officially in remission and, as his health improves, his parents expect to repay the community’s kindness.

“God doesn’t bless you or comfort you so you can hold onto it,” Kara Ketley said.

“He does it so we can comfort others. We want to be able to help other families. We are grateful and it has encouraged us to be more giving.”





• Event: Heart of the City Jam.

• When: Noon to 9 p.m. July 23.

• Venue: Lorain Borough Park.

• Benefit: Elijah Ketley Cancer Fund.

• Participating bands: Anything Jane, Asphalt Andy, Broken Spoke, Cyphin, Distorted Penguins, Echo Chamber, Legacy, One and Pelt.

• Admission: $5.

• More information: 262-9177, helpelijah.com

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