Monroe Countians gather at Waterloo’s Stubborn German to present the Boyer family with donations totaling nearly $52,000. – photos by Bethany Prange
By Bethany Prange
One by one, the men and women inside Stubborn German Brewing Company on March 28 stepped up to Josh Boyer, handed him an envelope and offered him a handshake or an embrace.
There was no big ceremony – no pomp and circumstance.
There were just people, many of them strangers, who came together on this seemingly random Tuesday, to help save the life of Boyer’s little girl, Lydia.
When they were done, Josh Boyer stood on a bench in the midst of the crowd. With tears in his eyes, he read the rough total of all those small envelopes - $51,868.88.
“This is God, right here,” he told the crowd.
Lydia, 6, was diagnosed with stage IV medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer, in June 2016. Last month, just after Lydia completed her last round of chemotherapy, Josh and Kayla Boyer learned Lydia had a recurrence of medulloblastoma. There is no known cure. To save their daughter’s life, the Boyers must get her into a clinical trial in California – and soon. Unfortunately, their medical insurance will not pay for it.
Without insurance, the Boyers have few choices – raise the funds to pay out of pocket, or rally legislators and government officials to sway insurance and hospital administrators to their cause.
The recent round of fundraising for Lydia began March 22 with a GoFundMe page set up by Wendy Kossina and her friends. So far this site has raised $48,194.
Then after learning of the Boyers’ plight, Chris and Tammy Rahn announced last Friday via Facebook that they and some other small businesses were putting together a Hope For Lydia Day on March 25. The Rahns, owners of Stubborn German, shared that they would donate 50 percent of the March 25 proceeds from their establishment. “Alright wonderful community of Waterloo, the family of Lydia Boyer needs our help. We HAVE to help this sweet family get their little girl to California to participate in a clinical trial that could save her life,” the Rahns’ Facebook post said.
That single act of generosity and kindness spread swiftly on social media, inspiring other business owners and restaurants to offer similar donations and specials. Soon, the post had been shared more than 1,000 times and had been viewed by more than 50,000 people. So many business owners began pledging their support and donations that the Rahns had to create a separate Facebook event page just for the day.
“We had no idea it was going to take off like this,” Chris Rahn said. “It’s just unbelievable.
On Saturday, March 25, small business owners in Monroe County kept their word, collecting donations or donating a portion of their sales for the day.
Tonight, dozens of those business owners, local officials, community representatives and individuals gathered at Stubborn German to present their donations to the Boyer family. Many in the crowd were moved to tears by the outpouring of kindness, and by the young family they were gathered to support.
“This is amazing,” Josh Boyer said. “I’d say it’s unbelievable, but I believe it because it’s Waterloo.”
Wearing a sparkly necklace and a shy smile, Lydia sat curled in her mother’s lap, seemingly unaware that all this commotion was for her. Monroe Countians have been rallying for the Boyers for months, perhaps even more so over the last few days.
Neighborhood children held lemonade stands over the weekend and adults held bake sales and barbecues. Donation jars for Lydia could be found everywhere from daycare centers and dog salons to clothing boutiques and restaurants. Hope For Lydia and Lydia Strong bracelets, shirts and coolie cups are being sold all over town.
Meanwhile, the Boyers are frantically writing letters and garnering help from local legislators to fight for their daughter’s life. They hope to receive good news about their chance to participate in the trial in California, Josh Boyer said. But time is not on their side. The tumor in their daughter’s brain grows with every day that passes, he said.
The House of Neighborly Service is accepting donations for the Boyers. Send checks to HNS-Lydia Boyer Fund, P.O. Box 367, Waterloo IL 62298.
Individuals can also donate via Lydia’s GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/vge4u-lydias-medical-fund
To keep up with Lydia’s progress, visit https://www.facebook.com/Hopeforlydia