Support for 6-year-old cancer patient hits $53,161

Ian Gunnell

Community support for Ian Gunnell, a 6-year-old Vinland Elementary first-grader who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in September, and his family continues, recently hitting the halfway mark of a $100,000 fundraiser campaign.

The campaign reached $53,161 earlier this week

The Poulsbo family appreciates all of the support, especially Ian.

The Children’s Hospital patient attends school at the hospital on days he feels well.

During one recent class, he spoke about the support he was receiving from the community, said his mom, Tanya Gunnell.

“Even Ian realizes that the conditions we have now—that he’s comfortable and taken care of—are largely due to kids donating coins and people giving a little here and there,” she said. “He realizes that it’s the community making his life easier.”

Donations have been pouring in from businesses and community members from North Kitsap and beyond to help the Gunnells pay for Ian’s medical treatment and additional living costs. Ian, his 10-year-old sister and mom have had to move into a Seattle apartment to be closer to Children’s Hospital in case of a medical emergency. His two older siblings still live in Poulsbo, while Chris Gunnell divides his time between Seattle and Poulsbo.

Gunnell estimates the family will use an additional $5,000 a month under this new living arrangement that they will need to maintain until summer 2013.

Added to the family’s money worries, Chris Gunnell learned shortly after his son’s diagnosis he’s getting laid off from his job in March.

The 6-year-old is under a treatment plan that includes a six-month period of intense chemotherapy followed by a three-year follow-up plan.

The average cost of one round of chemotherapy is $150,000; and several rounds of chemotherapy are often required for success.

Ian was diagnosed with blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm in early September. It’s a cancer that’s typically found in older adults, there are less than 30 documented cases of this form of leukemia in children younger than 18, according to a scientific journal focused on blood diseases.

Nearly three months since his diagnosis, the Gunnells say the 6-year-old has his good and bad days.

“He’s in good spirits when he’s not sick. When he comes out of (being sick) it’s obvious,” Chris Gunnell said.

Ian is currently recovering from a two-week cold that delayed chemotherapy, and left him emaciated and weak, Gunnell said.

The family relies on community support to get them through challenging times, Tanya Gunnell said.

“I hear all these amazing stories (of) people going out of their way, and using their talents to enrich our lives, which is amazing. We (have) rocky times with Ian, so it’s nice to fill that with love and support and be bolster by that,” she said.

Contributed photo

Family friend Melisa Holmes submitted upcoming community fundraiser events for Ian Gunnell.

PFM Refreshment Stand at Julefest

Saturday, 4-6 p.m.,

Poulsbo Waterfront Park, 18809 Front St. NE, Poulsbo, warm drinks and candy will be offered for $1/item donation to Ian’s fight.


Gateway Fellowship

18901 8th Ave. NE, Poulsbo

Dec. 7, 6 p.m.

Ian’s Carol: An Interfaith Jubilee of Hope and Voices

Concert benefiting Ian. Suggested donation of $15 per ticket or $50 per family. For more information e-mail Cheri Starnes at


Mor Mor Bistro & Bar

18820 Front St. NE, Poulsbo.

Dec. 9, 5:30 p.m.

A festive evening of music by Ranger & the Re-Arrangers (, drinks, a silent

auction, gifts, appetizers and raffle items. Cost is $20 to attend, if you buy your tickets in advance. Call (360) 697-3449 for more info


The Crocodile Back Bar

2200 Second Ave., Seattle,

Dec. 9, 7 p.m.

Music by Vigilante Santos with support by The Ames.

Open to all ages. Suggested door donation $15.


Kitsap Mall

10315 Silverdale Way NW, Silverdale.

Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Gift-wrapping for suggested donations.


North Kitsap High School

1780 NE Hostmark St., Poulsbo

Dec. 14, game times at 5:30 and 7 p.m.,

Door donations will be accepted with a half-time free throw



North Kitsap High School

1780 NE Hostmark St., Poulsbo

Dec. 21, game time 7 p.m.

Dance following NK boys basketball game. Door donations will be accepted with a $5 dance entrance fee.

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