WINNEBAGO - Ireland Meyer has been through more than 50 surgeries and she won't turn 5 years old until December.
To help with her medical expenses, friends are hosting a "Pennies for a Princess" benefit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Winnebago Municipal Center. A meal of scalloped potatoes and ham will be served for a donation.
"We will also have a bake sale and Ireland's journey bracelets will be for sale," said Sheryl Gunzenhauser, one of the organizers. "Everything we're doing for the benefit has been donated - 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Meyer family."
TOUGH?ROAD?— Ireland Meyer of Winnebago is in Cincinnati, recovering from surgery to attach her esophagus. A benefit for her is set for Saturday.
For those wishing to make a donation, make checks out to: Ireland's Benefit and send them c/o Sheryl Gunzenhauser, P.O. Box 512, Winnebago, MN 56098, or through PayPal, using MIK181@MCHSI.com and reference Ireland's Benefit.
Ireland, the daughter of Sean and Shanna (Scovill) Meyer of Winnebago, was born with multiple health problems.
"She was born with an esophageal artesia, which means her esophagus doesn't attach all the way to her stomach," Gunzenhauser wrote on Ireland's Facebook page. "She also has an atrial septal defect, which is a fancy name for a hole in her heart, and a bicuspid aortic valve. Neither one of her heart defects are much of an issue right now. Ireland is trach- and vent-dependent, has chronic lung disease, and a very complex medical history.... She also has Down Syndrome."
Ireland's latest surgery was Oct. 18 in Cincinnati, to attach her esophagus. She has been recuperating since the surgery, and her mom is staying with her.
Shanna posts updates on Ireland's CaringBridge website. For most parents, hearing their child let loose with a burp is not a cause for pride, but on Oct. 30, Shanna posted, "Ireland burped for the first time EVER today!! It was music to my ears!! : )"
When Ireland is stable enough, they hope to transfer her back to Minnesota, Gunzenhauser said.
In the meantime, there's the benefit.
"She is a sweet little girl," Gunzenhauser said. "Everyone falls in love with her - everyone."