COMMUNITY… ACTIVATE! Positive Fight Mode for Ian

*Update 10/1: The official PFM for Ian website is UP with link for donation help… HERE! The site is still “under construction”, but the critical info is living there now. 

*Update 9/27: There are a lot of wonderful plans in the works. Hoping there will be a simply donation site sooner than later, but there are A LOT of other ways to help get key support efforts going. If you would like to learn more or find out how you or your organization can help, please email me directly at jennyonthespot @ gmail [dot] com. I will connect you with the team. A bunch of HUGE thank yous to so many who are praying, thinking, and acting on behalf of Ian and his family!


My friends.

On Sunday I received an email from my friend Andrea.

“I am wondering if you would like to help be a part of this…” This is a portion of the email that followed:

…On the first day of the first grade Ian Gunnell, a 6-year-old Poulsbo boy, began a journey of firsts. He made his lunch, hopped on the bus, and headed to school. The doctor called his home before school had even started. Ian needed to go to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital for more tests. He was picked up before noon. By that evening he was admitted to the hospital and on Sept. 7, 2012, diagnosed with leukemia and awaiting more test results.

Then came the day after diagnosis. The day when Ian’s family learned what they were facing was a rare and aggressive form of the disease – blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm. There are only 25 documented cases of this malignancy in children and Ian’s is the first to ever be seen or treated in Seattle. In fact, there is little reference for pediatric treatment of the disease available worldwide.

Ian’s fight deserves and needs the attention of the country’s best medical minds and research. But medical costs for families of childhood leukemia patients are monumental. The average cost of just one round of chemotherapy is $150,000. Ian’s treatment will go on for months, possibly longer. Several rounds of chemotherapy are often required for success. Chemotherapy also demands comprehensive support and after care treatment, which can include special antibiotics, injections, blood transfusions and more. Battling this disease may make a stem cell transplant necessary. That procedure alone can exceed a half million dollars and carries its own follow-up treatment, transportation, hospitalization, supportive care, and other expenses.

During this critical time, Ian, his mother Tanya, and his 10-year-old sister Jenna, need to live in the vicinity of the hospital. Yet, temporary housing/living expenses in Seattle costs roughly $5,000/mo. Ian’s father, Chris, is trying to work and maintain their household here for their two high school students – Andrew, a senior, and Rachel, a freshman. To compound matters, Ian’s father just received a job layoff notice as part of a company downsize which will further impact their situation in the coming months.

When doctors, without answers, left the room that day, the Gunnells were left to react. It was in that a moment, with no preconceived thoughts, when Chris and Tanya looked Ian and his three older siblings in the eye and told them that they were going to have to come together in a really unique way. There they were, standing together as a family, in a small isolated corner of the hospital, when a desperate and loving Dad grabbed a marker and scribbled on the bottom of the patient whiteboard his rallying cry – the letters PFM – and “Positive Fight Mode for Ian” was activated.


lemonade stand
The first thing I did after reading that email was cry.

The second thing I did was email Andrea back with, YES. I want to be part of this.

At this point, the community has rallied and there is a benefit event planning meeting next Sunday evening.

But why bring this to you?

Because something like this reaches beyond the city limits of Poulsbo. You are my ONLINE community… Almost daily I come to you with stories of chaos or mania or silliness. Today I share a story of heartbreak, but also of hope.

Always hope.

Today I come to you, my valued community, seeking prayers. Prayers for Ian. Prayers for his amazing family.

And I come to you seeking resource. I have flopped about the internet looking for ways to collect donations utilizing this space. I have turned my wheels on the idea of procuring a load of cute sparkly stuff to give away here to incent donations…

But for the time I am asking for your eyes and ears and even hands. For the benefit, we are shooting for the stars. Literally – any celebrities out there? Big names = big money (let’s be honest). Cancer care treatment = BIG MONEY.

WE ARE DREAMING BIG. Remember my post about dreaming big on the Huffington Post? Yep. I’m dreaming big too, just like my daughter taught me. Olympic dreams… beating cancer … SAME.

In the comments, I invite you to share messages of love, thoughts, and prayer for the Gunnell family. They will see this! If you have a way to give, or have an idea, or know someone, or know someone who knows someone… or would like to learn about how you can give (time or resource!) please email me directly at jennyonthespot @ gmail [dot] com.

And share. I invite you to share this with your community… In the words of that famous Disney song, “It’s a small world afterall…” Share. Share. The power of prayer and love and community, these things have the power to heal and comfort and unite the unlikeliest of people.



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24 Responses to “COMMUNITY… ACTIVATE! Positive Fight Mode for Ian”

  1. Amanda says:

    Off to wave this flag in front of the people I know. Sending love, light and the belief that big things can happen west.


  2. Andrea says:

    Jenny–fantastic story! Thanks for sharing. I want this family to beat this and feel loved, supported and fight this fight without the worry and fear of the $$$$ involved. I hope our community close and far away can pull together and make great things happen! Dumb cancer!

  3. Tiffany says:

    I just shared this story on my page. I know this family. Lena and I were just talking about Rachel the other day. This news breaks my heart! Can we open up a bank account for Ian and then ask people on facebook to donate $1 to his account. $1 doesn’t mean a lot to anyone but it can sure add up to be a lot! If the media got word of the story and the request for $1 donations we might get some press. I’m off to brainstorm who I can send this story to…

    • Tiffany says:

      I think we should also get a facebook page for this cause. Once we have a facebook page and an account set up at a major bank we can e-mail this story to all the radio stations/talk shows/Ellen/Oprah. Lets go BIG!

      • Cherie says:

        Paypal is a really effective easy way for people to donate, know that it is safe to leave their information and the family can link it directly into their own bank account. And a plus people can leave little prayers and notes accompanying their donations.

  4. Tiffany says:

    Another idea, what about having a donation jar at all the NKH football games?

    • Tiffany… I adore you! There is a meeting coming up where these ideas can be brainstormed 🙂 And I agree about the FB page… There have been lots of emails and messages in lots of spaces and it would be great to have a hub! And yes – LET’S GO BIG!

  5. Deanna Sampson says:

    When you get a FB page set up and an account let us know…. I will be putting this out on our prayer chain at church….. who can’t give up a coffee or something and donate $5 to a cause like this!!!!!

  6. Recently the Northwest soccer family lost a bright smile named Mia to Leukemia. Her story, her family and foundation are a testament to what life is all about. This family is truly a magnificent example of strength, integrity and have the desire to help those in the fight against such a horrible disease. Please feel free to reach out to Casey her father for information, assistance and support. I hope this helps and will stand strong in prayer for Ian and his family. – JC

  7. Meg says:

    I want to send this to Ellen Degeneres. How can I get in touch with you or Andrea so I can get permission to send this?

  8. Cherie says:

    I would like to share this with a large group of women on FB that are active in praying for children and their families. The group is called “I Am A Mother To An Angel” and the women on there are prayer warriors!

  9. Michele says:

    Jenny – I have recently been following you; found you through a friend. I currently live in Poulsbo and have heard from 3 different people about little Ian. My heart goes out to the family and I too hope that the community comes together.
    An idea –
    Currently Groupon has a deal – only for 2 more days you can buy $24 worth of gourmet lollipops. I have seen fundraisers on these same lollipops. Now this deal is not a fundraiser; but if it is legal – different people could buy this groupon; sell the suckers for a higher cost and give the profits to Ian’s fund. The suckers are $24 for 60 of them. That is 40 cents each. Usually this fundraiser of these same suckers are that you buy them for 50 cents each and sell them for $1. What if we sell them for $2 for Ian. That would be almost $96 per person who purchases this groupon.
    It’s the only thing I can come up with right now. I will pray about it; and keep his family/ doctors/ and community in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. […] the few short weeks since Ian’s diagnosis (you can read more about that here)(and feel free to share, share, SHARE!), it is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL to see how many people have […]

  11. […] The post about Ian. A beloved, local first grade boy who is battling a rare form of leaukemia. The efforts on behalf […]

  12. […] is a local boy who has just begun his fight agains leukemia. You can read the story here. Find out how to help here. And get info on Project Sparkle: sending notes and pictures to Ian and […]

  13. […] should have shared this on October 1st, but I’ve been a little caught up in another story involving cancer and an awesome local boy, Ian. This October has been a sober and a hitting-close-to-home reminder of how cancer is the nastiest […]

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