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Benefit to help boy receive life-saving brain surgery

Date: 10/27/2010

Oct. 27, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

HOLYOKE -- Neurosurgeons gave Christa King-Muniz two options for the treatment of her eldest son, 10-year-old Kyle Ocampo: two potentially life-saving surgeries or wait for a seizure that would one day kill him. King-Muniz chose surgery.

Ocampo, diagnosed with unilateral polymicrogyria -- a neurological deficit, in which only one side of his brain developed -- at the age of two, suffers from frequent seizures, migraines and speech delays, which now prevent him from attending Holyoke Community Charter School and requires 31 pills daily. On Nov. 10, neurosurgeons at Boston Children's Hospital will conduct the first of two surgeries to locate and remove brain tissue causing his symptoms.

Marlene and Katie King, King-Muniz's mother and sister, have organized a benefit at the Log Cabin in Holyoke on Oct. 31 to help with the costs of Ocampo's treatment.

When asked how she and her husband have been able to cover medical bills, while caring for their two other children, ages three and four, King-Muniz replied, "Maxing out credit cards and struggling." King-Muniz is self-employed as a childcare professional in order to stay home with Ocampo.

"It isn't easy but I wouldn't trade him for the world," she said, noting that she takes Benedryl daily to sleep and combat hives caused by stress.

"All I want is for him to be able to be a kid. My focus is him. If I have to file for bankruptcy for him to have this surgery then it's what I have to do. At least my son's healthy. He didn't ask to have the health situations he has," King-Muniz said.

"The only thing Kyle talks about is getting better so that he can go to a Yankee game, play his Wii and go on a family vacation to [Disney World in] Florida," she added.

King-Muniz noted that her son looks and acts like any other kid his age, however, his activity levels such as playing Nintendo Wii, must be stringently monitored as they may cause seizures.

She hopes these surgeries will allow her son to have more good days than bad. "On a good day he has no seizures and he's functioning throughout the day. On a bad day he has five seizures, a migraine and a trip to the emergency room ... For the past two years, there have been more bad days than good days," King-Muniz explained.

Katie King, also Ocampo's godmother, called him her "first true love" and hopes for as normal a life as possible for her nephew.

Marlene King echoed her daughter's sentiments, adding that the generosity of those at the Log Cabin and Delaney House, where she works nights as a waitress, has been overwhelming. "Our goal is 500 ... we're hoping to fill the Log Cabin," she added of the benefit.

The Ocampo benefit will take place on Oct. 31 at the Log Cabin, 500 Easthampton Rd., from 1 to 5 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by a DJ and raffle items will include Delaney House gift cards, lift tickets to Okemo and Bousquet ski areas, an autographed baseball from Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and more.

Tickets to the benefit are $20 for adults and $8 for children ages three to 12. For tickets or more information, call Marlene or Katie King at 533-4168.

Monetary donations may be mailed to Kyle Ocampo, c/o United Bank, 1830 Northampton St., Holyoke, MA 01040.

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