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‘Start small and think big’

Local farmer hopes Bushels for the Boys will grow into something special

September 17, 2010
Terri Kelly Barta

When Tucker Koenig was born on May 12, three months premature, he weighed just 2 pounds, 8 ounces.

Now at four months old Tucker has captured the hearts of family and friends, especially his grandpa.

Mark Koenig, who farms west and south of Rugby, said he has been forever changed by his grandson who started off his life with medical problems.

"We took seven trips to Minneapolis to see Tucker (in the hospital)," said Koenig. "And we saw many other babies there. I think there were about 54 babies one day in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) when Tucker was in it."

When he got back home and was working on harvest, Koenig, began thinking about those innocent little babies having such a rough start to their lives. He began to form an idea to help the babies.

Tucker's mother, Miriah, was with him in Minneapolis, two other mothers from Rugby whose babies have health challenges were there as well. They all stayed together in a Ronald McDonald House, a home for families with sick children.

Aspen Heisler, 19-month-old, son of Levi and Randi Heisler, has neuroblastoma, a common form of childhood cancer, and mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS), a rare genetic disorder. He has had chemotherapy and several surgeries and is working to be declared cancer-free.

Pierce Casavant was born with anthrogryposis. He has had surgeries for severe club feet, club hands, and a smaller lower jaw. He has had a tracheotomy and will need to have more surgery to repair his airway. He is the son of Jonathan and Amy Casavant.

Tucker Koenig now weighs 9 pounds, 15 ounces. He was in NICU for three and a half months and has been home for only two weeks of his young life. He has suffered a brain bleed and holes in his intestines, both were repaired with several surgeries. His immune system is compromised until he gets older so visitors to his home are encouraged to clean their hands well before seeing and holding him.

Tucker has a shunt placed in his head to drain fluid from his brain. His family says with lots of cuddling, love and prayers he is improving every day.

Koenig incorporated all three of the sick children into his project and Bushels for the Boys was created. This is a project near and dear to his heart. Koenig chokes up just talking about it.

"We've been blessed with a good harvest this year," said Koenig. "I want to help others."

The family designed a poster and displayed it in the Rugby Farmers Union Elevator.

Anyone who would like to donate to the fund can do so by either donating a bushel or any amount of bushels of crop at the elevator and say it is for Bushels for the Boys. Others who wish to, may donate to the Bushels for the Boys fund set up at Merchants Bank in Rugby. All of the proceeds will be used to help Aspen, Pierce and Tucker with ongoing medical expenses.

What Koenig hopes will happen, eventually, is that people all across North Dakota will jump on board with this project and it will go statewide and help even more families.

"Start small and think big," said Koenig.

In addition to Miriah and dad, Mark, the Koenig family consists of mom, Glory, Molly, a senior at Rugby High School, Mackenzie, a sophomore at RHS, and Matty, 11. They all support Mark with this very special project to help others.

 
 

 

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