KCs replace pancake breakfast with Teddy Bear Drive for Lennon Ludewig

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

For the past “many” years, the local Knights of Columbus have held a pancake breakfast fundraiser for some local cause or person who could use some financial support. This year that didn’t seem like a plan that would work.

“We didn’t think pancakes would be very good as a take-out meal,” said Brian Braun of the KCs. “But we still wanted to do something special, something for Lennon Ludewig, a local little boy diagnosed with cancer.”

Braun said the group came up with a different kind of fundraiser—a Teddy Bear Drive. 

The KCs enlisted the assistance of several area businesses who agreed to sell special teddy bears, with all funds raised to go to the Ludewigs who are facing many unexpected expenses along this journey. 

The KCs ask you to please consider a teddy bear purchase or donation to help the Ludewigs so they can keep their focus on Lennon.

Jeremy and Carly Ludewig are pictured with their happy boy Lennon, who has been in cancer treatment for the past year. At right is a poster Carly made to take stock of some of Lennon's accomplishments thus far.

Lennon is the charismatic little boy of Jeremy and Carly. This is his cancer story, shared by his parents:

In April 2020, when Lennon was one year old, Jeremy noticed a large hairless bump on his son’s head of beautiful crazy hair. Carly knew Lennon had not fallen and took him to Sleepy Eye Medical Center a few days later. Lab work showed very concerning signs of cancer. Lennon was immediately referred to Minneapolis Children's Hospital emergency room and by evening had been diagnosed with cancer. The bump was a group of leukemia cells. They thank God for that bump often, because it was a warning of the already advancing cancer. In five short days, Lennon went from being a beautiful, healthy little boy to a cancer patient.

Lennon’s cancer is high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia and had already spread to his spinal fluid, giving him CNS Disease Group 3. He also has a gene mutation called Kmt2a, which along with the CNS, can make the cancer more difficult to treat and 40% more likely to return. 

Lennon is on a very aggressive two and a half year chemo plan and will not be considered cancer free until he has been so for 10 years. His final treatment date is August of 2022, right before his 4th birthday. What a joyous day that will be! Jeremy and Carly look forward to the day Lennon can just be a kid again.

As of the end of February, Lennon has completed over 11 months of aggressive weekly chemo therapy, called frontline treatment (considered to be the hardest part). Sometime in March he will begin the longest phase of treatment called “Maintenance.” For the next year and a half he will make monthly trips to Children’s for treatments, as well as different oral chemo every day at home.

While caring for Lennon, Carly is on extended leave from her job at the Sleepy Eye Medical Center clinic. Jeremy works at the Central Region Coop Feed Division in Sleepy Eye and has been able to continue working while taking off for treatment days and hospital stays.

Carly said despite his difficult treatment, Lennon is happy little toddler. 

“Aside from pneumonia, twice, he has handled treatment beautifully without many major issues,” Carly said. “He has nausea very often, has lost mobility twice—for a short while each time due to the effects of chemo and steroids, and of course feels the normal chemo side effects after every round. 

“But he is so extremely resilient, he has adapted to hospital and cancer life so well. It is just a normal day to him when he goes for chemo. Even when he feels terrible he still tries to play and be happy. 

“Lennon doesn't understand that every kid doesn't have a port or go to the doctor and get chemo through a “tubey,” like he does. He doesn't know what cancer is—this is just what his life has become and he thinks it is normal.” 

Carly said when Lennon is feeling good, in between treatments, he is a happy little toddler, obsessed with trains, construction and anything with wheels. 

“One thing that has been taken from Lennon is the ability to socialize and play with other kids,” said Carly. “That has been the most heartbreaking part for Jeremy and me. He is such a bubbly little boy and LOVES people, he is not shy at all. 

“Having your child go through cancer during a pandemic is something different entirely. For example, Lennon isn't able to use the play rooms at the hospital because of covid, and he has never seen the faces of any of his cancer team who he knows so well,” she said. “When I have him at the park we have to leave if other children show up, and he so badly wants to play with them. We long for the day he can run and play with other kids and that opportunity should be coming soon when he is successfully into the next phase, as he should have better numbers and immune system and not have to be in isolation.” 

Jeremy and Carly are so grateful for their friends, family, medical team and their community, who continue to wrap their arms around them in support and prayers as they take this journey with Lennon, while he kicks cancer’s butt.