GREELEY, Colo. - The Colorado Eagles hockey team will host a fundraiser during their March 8th game to raise money for a 10-year-old boy in need of brain surgery.
At 7 months old, during an incidental CT scan, doctors found an arachnoid cyst on the right side of Wesley Martin's brain. Within a year, it doubled in size. From that point forward, Wesley's parents Kevin and Tara continued to monitor the cyst with doctors.
"Up until this last time, they’ve completely agreed that it wasn’t something that we needed to intervene," said his mother Tara. "We were very shocked because he [the doctor] said that Wesley....cyst was so large that it was the size of a grapefruit now, and that it was starting to collapse the right ventricle of his brain."
The news meant the Martins had to do something, so they started to research surgical options. One option was to have use a shunt to drain the cyst. However, statistics show shunts only have a 30 percent success rate and it is highly likely additional surgery would be needed.
That is when Wesley's parents found Dr. Shahinian with the Skull Base Institute in California.
"I had taken a balloon and I had blown it up, and I said Wesley this is your cyst and this is in your head, and this is the size of it. I popped it and I said this is what the doctor is going to do. He’s going to go in and he’s going to remove it. He’s not going to pop it like this balloon but it’s very similar," Tara said.
Wesley who loves dirt bike racing and has begged his parents to play football, had one question. "He wanted to know, will I be disabled?" Tara said. "That was hard for us...He’s been strong when we couldn’t be strong."
The family decided the surgery with Dr. Shahinian was the best option.
"I just can’t imagine doing a craniotomy on Wesley, cutting his skull, I can’t do it," his father Kevin said. "I just think this way is the best way to go. Talking to the doctor in California, [he] seems so confident on what he’s doing. It just makes me feel good about it, that we are doing the right thing."
The surgery is out-of-network, which meant the Martin's insurance would not cover the cost. After discussions with the doctor, they decided the best option would be to pay up-front with cash, so the surgery would be cheaper. The total bill is $200,000.
"At first I thought we should just sell our house and empty our bank account and move to California. But talking to Tara, our family and Wesley changed my mind and decided to go this route. It’s just tough asking for help," Kevin said.
The family is fundraising for Wesley's campaign "Kissed by an Angel," referencing a patch of blonde hair he has near the cyst site. Now, the Colorado Eagles are helping. For the last three years, the minor league hockey team has hosted 'Pot of Gold' night around St. Patrick's Day.
"The idea was to find a way to raise money for individuals who are in dire need of financial support, and we found a good one with Wesley Martin," said head coach Chris Stewart. "We need to find a way to help this young man out in any manner that we can. Playing this game on March 8th is just going to add a drop to the bucket. We need to find a way to get $200,000 so he can have the surgery done and its got to be done quickly, it’s got to be done by this summer."
The team will wear Irish-themed jerseys, which will be auctioned at the end of the night. Deputies from the Larimer and Weld County sheriff's offices will be carrying buckets to collect donations, and $7 from each pre-sale ticket will go to Wesley.
This organization is built around helping the community, but their actions are not lost on the Martin family.
"I’d just like to tell everybody thank you so much. There’s just no way we can ever tell everybody thanks," Kevin said.
"It’s pretty humbling you know....If there’s ever a time down the road where we can pay it forward, we would," followed Tara.
The tickets for March 8th's game can be ordered by clicking here.