If you go
Hannah Sixkiller benefit fundraiser
• What: Hannah Sixkiller benefit fundraiser
• When: 9 a.m. Sunday
• Where: Russell Community Park rodeo grounds, two miles east of Dixon, Wyo.
— Costs depend on events and donations are welcome. Proceeds go toward the Sixkiller family’s medical expense. For more information, call Brianna Braun at (307) 380-6203.
At the beginning of June, 7-year-old Hannah Sixkiller began to complain of headaches.
Her mother, Ryan Sixkiller, immediately took notice.
“It didn’t seem right for a little kid to have headaches like that,” said Ryan, a former Craig resident who now lives with her daughter in Dixon, Wyo.
The family consulted a doctor, who ordered a brain scan. The scan revealed news that would frighten any parent: Hannah had several cancerous brain tumors, some of which were considered inoperable.
Hannah began treatment and had the largest of the masses removed. She is currently in her fourth week of radiation and chemotherapy treatments at Children’s Hospital in Denver.
Her doctors have hopes of treating the inoperable tumors.
Ryan said Hannah is doing well with her treatment and is in good spirits.
She used one word to describe Hannah’s attitude throughout treatment — “trooper.”
“She’s doing really good,” Ryan said. “You would probably not even know that anything was going on with her if you saw her.
“She is just a regular, 7-year-old kid.”
Hannah will undergo another three weeks of treatment before a break and reassessment of her condition.
Ryan said doctors expect Hannah will need “quite a bit” more chemotherapy after the break.
After hearing the news of Hannah’s diagnosis, Brianna Braun, a longtime friend of Ryan’s, decided to organize a fundraising benefit to help cover the Sixkiller family’s medical expenses.
The fundraiser is scheduled for Sunday at the Russell Community Park rodeo
grounds in Dixon and will feature a roping and barrel racing competition, and a silent auction.
Ryan said Hannah will be able to attend the benefit because she doesn’t receive treatments on the weekend.
“We are excited to have something to look forward to,” Ryan said.
Registration for the cattle roping competition will start at 9 a.m. and the competition will begin at 10 a.m. Prizes will go to the top 10 teams.
Exhibition barrel races will begin at 9 a.m. Registration for the competition will start at 10 a.m. and end at 11 a.m.
The silent auction will feature about 60 items, including artwork, quilts, handmade items and guns, Braun said.
Braun is expecting a large crowd to attend the event, but said there is no set goal for how much money she hopes the benefit will raise.
Several local businesses from the Baggs, Wyo., area have signed on as sponsors of the event, Braun said. Donations are also welcome, she said.
Braun said the regional community has come together to support the Sixkiller family.
“When you live in a community like this, everyone is just very compassionate and everyone wants to help and not everybody knows what the correct way to go about helping is,” she said. “It gives everybody an opportunity to help the family.”
The Sixkiller family is not unfamiliar with cancer and the treatments that come with it.
Ryan said she first had a tumor when she was just 18-months old. Tumors resurfaced in her 20s, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 25, she said.
Last fall, doctors found a sarcoma near Ryan’s heart. Doctors operated on it and treated her with radiation.
Ryan said her experiences with cancer alerted her to the possibility that Hannah could be susceptible to the disease.
“In the back of our minds, I guess we always knew because I have had so much stuff and my mom had some cancer,” she said. “We knew that there was a possibility for it to be genetically passed to her.”
When Hannah was first diagnosed, Ryan said she only told her daughter what she needed to know.
“For a long time, we didn’t tell her it was cancer, we just said they were ‘bad spots,’ and ‘stuff we have to take care of,’ and that’s what made her headaches,” she said.
Since then, Ryan said Hannah has handled the news well that she has cancer.
“She knows that it is cancer now and she knows that she is going to lose her hair when she starts her next chemo, and she just takes it all in stride,” Ryan said. “I think she realizes that it is something she has to do and she is just getting it done.”
Braun said she wanted to do as much as she could to help the Sixkiller family.
“I just feel like people should come out because it is a good cause and if they knew Hannah, she herself is reason enough to come out,” Braun said. “She is just a wonderful little girl and when you meet her, she is just one of those kids you don’t forget.”