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Fundraising Events Planned for Paramedic s Baby Diagnosed with Rare Leukemia

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- The day Mandi and J.J. Coats' daughter turned 2 months old was not cause for celebration.

That was the late-January day the Kennewick (Wash.) parents discovered Madelynn, now 4 months, had a rare and quickly progressing type of leukemia.

"She was diagnosed the day she turned 2 months," said Becki Coats, J.J. Coats' mother, of Kennewick. "(Madelynn's) mom has not left her side." Madelynn was diagnosed after her parents noticed a lump on their only child's head.

Since then, Madelynn and Mandi Coats, 27, as well as Mandi Coats' mother, who lives in Omak, have stayed in Spokane while 10-pound Madelynn goes through five nearly monthlong rounds of chemotherapy at Sacred Heart Medical Center, said J.J. Coats, 26.

The family's insurance covers most medical expenses, Becki Coats said. But nearly 30 percent still is out of pocket, and doesn't include Mandi Coats' living expenses or J.J. Coats' travel to and from Spokane.

Mandi Coats has taken leave from her job as a paramedic and firefighter at Benton Fire District 1, where J.J. Coats' father, Jack, also is a firefighter. The 4-month-old's firefighter family also includes her father, who works for the Kennewick Fire Department and Becki Coats, who was a firefighter for Benton County and now holds administrative positions.

"They save lives every day," said Jennifer Kreuziger of Spokane's Inland Northwest Blood Center, "and now they need the community's help."

Several local fire departments and family friends are planning fundraisers for the family this month, including a mid-month yard sale.

Their church, Richland's Columbia Community Church, also has prepared monthly care packages for the couple, Becki Coats said.

"The Lord's definitely had his hand in here," she said. "She's on every prayer list."

A blood and marrow drive Saturday has been planned in Madelynn's name. The drive is a chance for the Coatses to give back, Becki Coats said.

"We are very thankful there was blood at the blood bank for her when she needed it," she said. "It's not just all about Maddie."

Family and friends of Kennewick's Jasmin Mendoza, 8, diagnosed last year with aplastic anemia, also are encouraging people, especially Hispanics, to turn out for the drive.

Doctors have not determined if Madelynn will need a bone marrow transplant, but Becki and J.J. Coats said they are encouraging people to join the National Marrow Donor Program registry.

"We want to give back," Becki Coats said.

How to help

A blood and marrow drive for Madelynn Coats is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Columbia Community Church, 150 Gage Blvd., Richland. Appointments are encouraged and can be made by calling Becki Coats at 586-2319 or 531-2184.

Items for a yard sale are needed. All proceeds from the April 19 sale will go toward Madelynn Coats and her family. Items for the sale can be dropped off at the location of the event, 1508 W. 40th Place, Kennewick. Call 392-1811 for more information.

The Madelynn Coats donation account has been established at Washington Mutual. Donations go toward the Coats' medical, living and travel expenses.

For more information, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/missmaddie.

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