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New Highland Elementary School is hoping pizza and games can bring some good luck to one of its own.
Staff at New Highland is hosting a fundraiser for first-grader Alex Frahler from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. today at Gatti’s Pizza to raise money for his upcoming surgery. Alex, 7, will be undergoing a risky surgery to have a cochlear implant removed because of improper placement of the device.
The electronic device allows Alex to have some hearing, though Alex uses American Sign Language as his main form of communication.
Alex complained of severe headaches, so his parents began a series of doctor’s visits and tests to determine the problem. They learned that Alex’s cochlear implant was not in the correct place, and was resting against the carotid artery, which supplies the head and neck with blood, said Ward Frahler, Alex’s father.
If left in, the device could open the artery, causing bleeding or a stroke, he said. But surgery to remove it carries similar risks, with the possibility of opening the artery when the implant is removed.
Melissa Parrish is a sign language interpreter at New Highland and has worked with Alex in the past. She and another interpreter, Robin Simpson, felt compelled to do something for Alex and his family when they learned of the April 18 surgery.
They felt “helpless” about it and wanted to help in some way, Parrish said.
“They’re great people and a great family,” she said of the Frahlers.
They thought Gatti’s Pizza would be a good place to host the event because it’s a place where people can bring their families.
Presenting a flier for the event will direct a portion of the money spent on dinners to the medical costs for Alex’s surgery. Parrish said there are fliers available at the register at Gatti’s for customers to request before paying.
Ward Frahler said he couldn’t believe the support his family is receiving from various places in the community, and he said they weren’t looking for help when Parrish and her coworkers coordinated the event.
“It’s very humbling,” he said.
Parrish said she just wanted to help Alex, who is an “amazing kid,” she said, someone who is “still so happy and carefree.”
“He could teach us a lot,” she said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747.