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Campaign kicks off to build pediatric transplant house

Ree and Randy Erickson hope to build a pediatric transplant house in Northwest Rochester that could accommodate 20 families with children seeking long-term treatment at Mayo Clinic.

On Thursday, organizers will be launching an awareness and funding campaign to build the first pediatric transplant house in Rochester.

"Nobody is isolated, and we have been part of a group that works together to accomplish good things for others. We want to build a house to be there for people during their walk through one of the hardest times of their lives," co-founder Ree Erickson said.

Erickson and her husband, Randy, operate Cy's Place, which today is an apartment in the basement level of their house. With help from family and friends, they renovated the space to accommodate a family who has a child receiving extended treatment at Mayo Clinic. They provide the housing at little to no cost to the family.

After a gift of 9 acres of land from friends of the family, who choose to remain anonymous, the Ericksons' dream to build a much bigger Cy's Place — one that can house 20 families at a time — was born.

Their fundraising efforts now will go toward constructing the building, although they don't know when that process could start. Awareness is also crucial, they said, since the couple has mostly been relying on word of mouth to publicize their apartment for families in need.


"Our goal is to have the facility be free, but we may not get there. Otherwise, we would offer rooms at comparable low rates to other similar organizations in the area. We, of course, don't require anyone to pay, and we want to make sure their needs are taken care of," Ree said.

The facility will be the first of its kind in Rochester, and will feature several different amenities to cater to individuals receiving medical treatment, including some wheelchair accessible apartments, easy-to-clean walls, and full-size appliances so residents can cook their own food. The apartments have one or two bedrooms and are designed for the whole family to be able to stay for an entire duration of treatment, which Ree said is unique.

The site — near the intersection of Ashland Drive Northwest and 19th Street Northwest — is about 10 minutes away from Mayo Clinic.

"There will be a chance to walk on trails, sit on a bench, and just be outside," Ree said. "We believe the process of healing is helped by open space more than being surrounded by buildings all the time," Randy Erickson said.

They were inspired to move to Rochester and serve families of children with long-term illness by their own son, Silas, whom they affectionately called Cy. Cy suffered from cancer and was treated at Mayo Clinic for nearly a year. He died in 2007 at the age of 3. The Ericksons decided to move from their previous home in North Dakota and relocate to Rochester in late 2011.

"We know what it's like to navigate the medical treatments and deal with finances, jobs, running things back home, and having togetherness as a family. We want to be able to provide for people because we know what needs there are so we can proactively help," Ree said.

The website to book Cy's Place and donate to the campaign is www.cysplace.org . Individuals can also contribute by offering their talents in constructing the building and later on, after the building is completed, as volunteers in the new facility.

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