Family, community unite to raise funds for area girl

Julianna Sayler, 8

Highly aggressive difficult to treat brain tumors called diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas — or DIPG — appear at the base of the brain. The rare, incurable cancer affects 250-300 children annually. No one has survived the disease in the last 50 years. The typical life expectancy for children is 6-12 months.

Julianna Sayler, an 8-year-old Walla Walla girl, is coping with this inoperable condition, said her aunt, Stephanie Compston of Walla Walla.

Julianna’s father, Eric Sayler, pastors Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church. Eric and wife Stacie got the news Nov. 20 that Julianna has DIPG, according to www.kiddosbeatcancer.com/.

Julianna is home-schooled along with brother Joshua, 12, and sister Jillian, 6. Julianna is active in 4-H, gymnastics and soccer, has a golden retriever puppy, loves to sing and do crafts, Stephanie said.

Thus far, Julianna has undergone 30 standard radiation treatments. Her family found experimental treatment at a London hospital, but travel, lodging and care costs run upward of $100,000.

Via email, Stephanie said Carrie Brennan of Without A Hitch Events has partnered with nonprofit Focus on Cancer to raise funds for Julianna’s treatment and shed light on pediatric cancer. They will host live and silent auctions from 6-10 p.m. March 4 at a fundraiser at Gesa Power House Theatre, 111 N. Sixth Ave. The Frog Hollow band will perform and wine and food will be sold.

Donations are pouring in from organizations, wineries, businesses and individuals for the auction, Stephanie noted.

“The connections that are coming together to make this event happen are incredible,” Stephanie said.

More than 10 years ago, she and Carrie attended nursing school. They reconnected as a result of Julianna’s illness.

“The partnership with Focus on Cancer is driven by their commitment to local families and to raising awareness for their needs. This story is reaching all corners of our diverse community,” Stephanie wrote.

They contacted the nonprofit 50 Calibers Washington from Tri-Cities, a group of independent bikers who fight against cancer. The Saylers’ church family is also part of the support network.

“We could not have a more eclectic group of people. In these times of division and building walls between each other I find it amazing that our little community is showing the world what it means to work together for the good of others,” Stephanie wrote.

More information is available at www.kiddosbeatcancer.com or contact Stephanie at 509-240-6279 or silvst@live.com.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313. 

Annie joined the U-B news staff in 1979 and since 1990 has written Etcetera, a daily community column. She was promoted to a copy editing post in 2007. She edits copy, designs and lays out pages, including the weekly arts and entertainment guide Marquee,