Community raises more than $60,000 for Killdeer infant

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KILLDEER, N.D. - Karter and Zana Kleeman had their son Krew on Dec. 29. Since then, he's had to fight for his life. Doctors had to do open heart surgery to get blood flowing properly to the rest of his body.

Photo courtesy: Karter Kleeman

Baby Krew isn't the first to be helped by the community. Killdeer has about 1,100 people and they show that even the smallest community can make a large impact. Volunteers started early in the morning making fry bread from scratch, getting the silent auction ready and helping anyway they could.

"That is what makes us so proud of this community and helps us in deciding to do things like this. We don't even think about it,” said volunteer Rose Hurt.

Krew is the son of Killdeer high principal Karter. He didn't know what to expect when doctors told him of Krew's condition.

"Tried a couple things and didn't think it would be as serious as it was, but as soon as they said he needed open heart surgery, that's where it hit us at home and it made it a lot more difficult."

Krew had a transposition of his arteries, which kept oxygen from getting to the rest of his body. The first few weeks of his life were spent in the hospital. Once he got home, Killdeer rallied to help the Kleemans.

"That's how these small communities survive and do well. If you can't trust your friends and neighbors, there's nobody you can trust. If you need something, that's the people you go to,” said Wendell Vigan, the event's auctioneer.

Rose Hurt knows firsthand the community helps whoever they can; first with her daughter's medical issues, then her own.

"Two years ago I had cancer and they helped me as well, and the staff just gave me rides to Dickinson for my chemo treatments and made dinners for me. So I figured this was the perfect chance to pay it forward,” said Hurt.

More than $60,000 was raised for Krew. The outpouring of support brought Karter to tears.

"I had people here that I hadn't seen in a while. Friends all the way from Gillette, Wyo. came up to see me and support me. All that stuff is really cool,” said Karter.

The family says donations can be made to American State Bank and Trust.