KINGSFORD, Mich. (WZMQ) – – In a display of community solidarity, Molly Jackson and Hannah Wagner have come together to organize a fundraiser for the Newman family, whose 2-year-old son, Ezra, was airlifted from Marshfield Medical Center, Dickinson, to the Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee last week. Little Ezra, the sole child of the Newman family, faced a sudden medical crisis that has left the community rallying to provide support.
Molly Jackson and Kelsey Newman, Ezra’s mother, crossed paths years ago through a mom’s group chat, and their shared experience of having children of similar ages drew them together. Jackson emphasized, “I know it would mean the world to them just getting the community gathering, spreading awareness about this – because it’s something that’s super uncommon, and such a scary situation.” Hannah Wagner has known Ezra’s mother Kelsey since the pair were in high school.
Ezra’s journey began when he had a seizure at the Children’s Museum on the 21st of October. Molly Jackson, one of the organizers of the fundraiser, shared the family’s ordeal, saying, “He had a seizure at the Children’s Museum last Saturday on the 21st. And they actually do now have, this morning, they got an answer as to what’s going on.”
“The infectious disease control team, he tested positive for enterovirus,” Stacy Lantagne, Ezra’s grandma, explained, “and it’s a specific strain of the enterovirus that causes encephalitis. So we only know enough to be dangerous at this point. It’s very rare, and it’s kind of unusual for kids to get this, but for him to get it that severe – that’s kind of rare too.” Encephalitis is a medical term for brain swelling.
Lantagne continued. “He went from perfectly fine and healthy, and no symptoms. Absolutely nothing. He was dancing and singing and playing and eating, and his mom took him to the children’s museum.”
But tragedy struck, and Lantagne recounted the terrifying moment, “He fell. He cried, she took him outside, and he had a seizure in her arms, and it continued on for quite some time, and then the ambulance came.”
Ezra was immediately airlifted to the Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee, a move that left his parents, a school-teacher and a nursing student, facing significant medical expenses. Hannah Wagner, another organizer, mentioned, “They are staying in the Ronald McDonald house right now, and it’s looking like he might be there for a very long time. The recovery they’re saying is at least 2 to 3 weeks, if not more.”
Lantagne further explained, “He’s on a ventilator, but he’s doing really good on his own. They’re hoping to take that out tomorrow and get them through some of these withdrawals, and then from there it’s going to be assessing what repercussions there are from it, and then therapy, training, and rebuilding his lungs.” Lantagne refers to withdrawals as the child has had to be placed on opioid sedatives to keep him calm, and to keep his condition from worsening.
The community has already shown remarkable support for the Newman family. A GoFundMe campaign has raised over $11,000, and local businesses including Erikson’s Jewelers, Boss Snowplow, Walgreen’s, the local movie theater, Carlos Cantina, Tadych’s Supermarket, and Danielson’s Greenhouse – and individuals have offered donations for a silent auction to be held on Sunday, November 5th, at Venue 906, 900 W Breitung Ave in Kingsford from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Central.
“We’re just humbled and beyond grateful,” shared Lantagne. “He was very much looking forward to Halloween, and the community said we’ll do trick-or-treat in November in the ambulance that took him to the hospital. They said we’re going to give him a ride in the ambulance in the front seat with all the sirens. Kingsford public safety said they will escort him in when he comes home, and it’s just people reaching out constantly to do a nice gesture.”
Any money exceeding the amount needed by the family will be given either to the Ronald McDonald house or to another child in need. “There was absolutely no warning, no indication, so if there is some way that we can, you know, help others. He was part of a clinical trial for the sepsis, and they opted to do that, so we don’t know of course if he got the placebo or if he got the actual medicine, but he is showing improvement, and if there’s someway that we can prevent another kid or help another family we’re going to do that,” added Lantagne.
“At first when we got here, they said it would easily be three weeks, today is week one,” Lantagne stated, “and I think they’re impressed by how much he’s progressing, but I think we’ll easily be here that three weeks and probably longer. There will be different neurologists and different specialists, and if the reason he got so sick from that is because he’s immunocompromised, or some underlying thing that his body didn’t take to the virus like you, or I would have, then we need to get to the bottom of that and figure that out as well.”
“We’re so grateful for the community,” Lantagne continued. “Usually, we’re on the giving side, hosting or going to these benefits and fundraisers and donating to these GoFundMe’s, and to be on the reciprocating side is just so powerful. People have been sending texts and messages, door dashing coffee and donuts, and washing dogs and raking leaves at our house.”
Ezra’s family deeply appreciates the support and emphasizes the significance of community. Lantagne shared words from Ezra’s mother, stating, “In Kelsey’s words, I said, ‘You know, is there anything you really want me to say?’ and she said, ‘Emphasize how powerful this community is and how everything is holding us up, like they’re giving us our energy, they’re giving us our strength. They’re fueling us to keep mustering through every day. But also, just to snuggle your babies tight, because life is precious, and you truly don’t know minute for minute what could happen, and it will really change you and impact you. And she wanted to make sure we convey our gratitude for the support that we’ve been given.”
With the upcoming fundraiser and silent auction, the community continues to rally around little Ezra, offering a helping hand in his journey to recovery.
To get in touch about donating a gift basket or item to the silent auction, please email Molly Jackson at:
To make a donation directly to the family’s GoFundMe, visit:
*Photos/videos of Ezra courtesy the Newman family via Molly Jackson.