Restaurant to hold benefit to help family

By on August 20, 2014

Baby born with rare heart defects has already faced three surgeries

A local restaurant is asking the community to come together and help a  family care for their baby.

Evelyn Gromlich was born in January with Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia, which is a rare and complex combination of congenital (present at birth) heart defects. She is the daughter of Thane and Abby Gromlich and has a sister, Brooke, 2.

Thane and Abby Gromlich hold baby Evelyn. (Photos provided by the Gromlich family)

Thane and Abby Gromlich hold baby Evelyn. (Photos provided by the Gromlich family)

“She has already faced three open heart surgeries and was recently taken to the emergency room again,” Robyn Landean, owner of R Place in Denver, said. “Her father has lost his job, they are living with family and we just wanted to do something to help them out.”

That something is a benefit scheduled for 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 23 at R Place, 336 Main St., Denver. They plan to sell pizza, dine in or take out, to raise money for the family. Thane and Abby will also be at the restaurant from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Robyn said she and her husband, Rich, co-owner of the restaurant, attended Conestoga Christian School in Morgantown with Thane.

“We have been following their story and we just wanted to reach out when we heard the need,” she said. “They sold everything they had to keep the family together.”

“Our goal is to bring the community together to raise money for the Gromlich’s living and medical expenses while they care for their baby,” said Rich Landean. “The day will be festive, with face painting for kids, entertainment, various vendors offering support and the warmth of community coming together all while enjoying a slice or two.”

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the day will go to the family.

Evelyn is a fighter. She was just five days old when she had to have her first heart surgery, which installed a shunt to allow blood to flow from her heart to her lungs, according to the Landeans. She pulled through even though she was only given a 30 percent survival rate.

Her condition caused her to be immunodeficient, and at three months, she caught a cold. After being at death’s door for almost two months, she had another emergency surgery, with a less than 5 percent survival rate, they said.

Two weeks ago, she had her third surgery, with an 80 percent survival rate.

Brooke, age two, hugs her sister, Evelyn.

Brooke, age two, hugs her sister, Evelyn.

“She fought through and came home Aug. 7,” the Landeans said, but as they tell her story, Evelyn ended up back in the hospital Aug. 11 with a respiratory disease.

Evelyn’s journey will not get any easier. She will have one year off, but is at least six months behind developmentally and has the possibility of brain damage.

Unfortunately, shunts won’t grow with her body, the Landeans said, so she will have to have at least 13 more surgeries.

Thane, her father, was the business manager at a  software company before being laid off shortly after Evelyn’s first surgery, Robyn said. Without the generosity of family and friends, the family would be homeless and currently is staying with Abby’s parents in Pottstown.

Robyn also noted that donations of diapers, sizes three and up, baby wipes and gift cards to grocery stores and gas stations will also be accepted.

“This family truly needs help,” she said.

For those unable to attend the benefit, donations can be mailed to: Berean Bible Church, 2675 East High St., Pottstown, Pa. 19464. Gromlich’s Assistance Fund should be noted in the subject line.

Dena Reedy is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. She welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at or at 721-4434


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