Event to help Tempe girl battling rare illness - East Valley Tribune: News

Event to help Tempe girl battling rare illness

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Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2008 8:34 pm | Updated: 10:21 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A Tempe community has united to raise money for a 6-year-old girl battling a rare genetic disorder.

Neighbors, friends and relatives of Cloey Gibson have scheduled a massive yard sale on Feb. 16 to benefit the kindergarten student at Kyrene de las Brisas Elementary School in Chandler.

"The sale will be huge," said Cloey's mother, Megan Gibson. "All are welcome to donate goods to sell, donate cash or just come by."

She said the sale will take place at five homes, with more than 100 families donating items. The event will include a bake sale and water bottles displaying Cloey's picture.

Megan Gibson said the community hosted a similar yard sale a few years ago that raised roughly $10,000 to help with the financial struggles that come with Cloey's medical treatment.

She said her daughter has a rare genetic disorder, similar to Down syndrome, that brings a range of medical issues. Megan Gibson said explaining Cloey's condition is difficult because it is the "only documented case ever."

The case is so unusual, in fact, that Cloey must travel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where a group of doctors representing diverse specialities collaborates on her treatment.

"The main reason we go to Mayo is for their multidisciplinary care," Megan Gibson said.

Cloey's daily agenda is full of nonstop care, her mother said. The girl has a fused neck, which limits normal movement, and requires monitored feeding from a tube in her stomach, followed by suction procedures of her trachea.

Cloey has undergone 16 surgeries and has more to come, the mother said. The child has also had more than 500 doctor appointments, been consulted by more than 50 specialists, has capped out at least two insurance companies and has generated more than $100,000 in medical bills.

And this week, she's scheduled to begin using a breathing machine while sleeping, her mother said.

"The next five years are going to be rough," Megan Gibson said.

But Cloey is still smiling.

"She has this amazing spirit about her," family friend Zach Mortensen said. "She is so infectious with her optimism and her laughter."

Cloey's mother said her daughter dreams of becoming a mother and doctor when she grows up.

Cloey's father, 27-year-old Ty Gibson, said his daughter always seems to rise to every occasion.

"She goes through so much, and she is still so happy," he said.

But the expenses for Cloey's care and travel between Arizona and Minnesota are not easy for the young parents, also raising two younger children.

"I just feel that she deserves the best chance," Megan Gibson said. "She just inspires people and she inspires us."

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