Fundraiser to Build Play Area for Pick. 2nd Grader Battling Brain Tumor

Libby with her dog, Archie.

April 4, 2023
By Zoey Moore, POL Intern

Libby Eberhard is a very bright and resilient second grader at Toll Gate Elementary School. Unfortunately, Libby was diagnosed with a type of pediatric brain cancer known as Medulloblastoma when she was just five years old.

“It was a diagnosis that rocked our family to the core,” said Libby’s mom Kaitie. “She appeared completely normal on the outside but was much sicker than we realized on the inside. Following her marathon brain surgery, she never woke up.”

She suffered every known complication and was then diagnosed with Severe Posterior Fossa Syndrome. This left Libby unable to move, eat, talk or swallow. She was essentially trapped in her own body. She did not speak her first words for several months and then had to completely relearn everything she had ever learned – all while undergoing intensive chemotherapy.

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Libby with her sisters, Callie and Hannah

Libby completed three rounds of high dose chemotherapy followed by three rounds of stem cell transplants. She then had nearly eight weeks of inpatient rehab. She was hospitalized for most of her nine-month treatment during the peak of Covid-19. She was denied any visitors except for her parents.

“It was incredibly isolating, especially for Libby’s twin sister, Hannah and little sister, Callie,” Kaitie said. “We were thrilled to be reunited as a family of five following treatment and were lucky to have multiple clear scans. Libby relearned how to do many things, but just in a different way. She was able to start first grade at Toll Gate Elementary where she absolutely thrived. She even joined the Chevington Kingfish Swim Team where she was able to finally be part of a team!”

 The family sold their house so that they could build one that was more “handicap-friendly”. They were about to close on their new home when they received crushing news.

 “Libby relapsed at age seven,” Kaitie said. “We were absolutely devastated. Libby was doing the best she had been doing since her original diagnosis and was beating all the statistics. But relapsed medulloblastoma faces tremendously poor odds – it is almost always fatal. Our last chance at a cure was high dose craniospinal proton radiation therapy, which was only offered in Cincinnati.”

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The family moved to Cincinnati for six weeks while Libby underwent 30 radiation treatments. Upon returning from Cincinnati, the Eberhards moved into their new home. Libby started second grade the next day.

Libby’s Second Grade Picture

She has had two medical scans since returning from Cincinnati. Both scans indicated that the radiation succeeded in killing the tumor.

“We hope that this is the end of her treatment journey. But we don’t know what is to come,” Kaitie said. “Every accommodation we have made for our house and our life has Libby’s best interests in mind. And our goal is to have her feel included and able to do as much as she can for as long as she can. She loves to sit outside and watch her dog, Archie, run and play with her sisters,” Kaitie said.

The Eberhards began looking for a company who could install a patio designed around Libby’s needs. 

“As we began to make our new home ours, we ran into Rob at Columbus Hardscapes,” said Libby’s mom, Kaitie. “As we were talking about what we ‘wanted’, we also knew there were a lot of ‘needs’ to help Libby enjoy the space as well. As part of their mission to give back to the community they love, they so graciously chose us as the first family to partner with.”

Rob Hewitt, owner of Baltimore-based Columbus Hardscapes said that after he met with the Eberhard family and learned their story, “we knew immediately that we wanted to help in any way we could.”

The Eberhard family visit with Steve Emerson of Columbus Hardscapes during the Pickerington Home & Garden Expo on April 1.

The company began to design an outdoor entertainment area that included a large patio space where the family and their friends could gather.

“Due to Libby’s treatments, she can no longer control her body temperature, so we are including a covered structure attached to the house to provide a shaded space for them,” Hewitt said. “Inside that, we will also include nice heaters hung from the ceiling so she can enjoy fall evenings as well.

We will be including a light landscape package, with a ‘Promise Tree’ planted off the patio, which will grow big and strong at the same rate their family does. This oak tree will serve as a reminder of how they can continue to look up to watch it grow and thrive through the years.” 

The Eberhards planned to purchase the patio in phases due to the cost.

“We took it upon ourselves to take on the rest of the project to create an amazing space for them that they can enjoy sooner,” Hewitt said. “We have called on our vendors, fellow business owners, friends and families to raise some money to cover that difference.”

In addition, a GoFundMe has been created for the project. At publication time, $1,833 had been raised toward the $15,000 goal.

A computer rendering of the patio design.

“Being able to spend as much quality family time together and creating amazing family memories has become our primary goal,” Kaitie said. “We aren’t guaranteed a future as a family of five, so we are making the best of every moment we have together.”

Inspired by the community response and goodwill that has come about from helping the Eberhards, Columbus Hardscapes is taking steps to form a non-profit construction company dedicated to helping other families in need of similar accommodations.

“We hope to exceed our fundraising goal to cover even more of the cost than we have agreed to,” Hewitt said.

Kaitie urges people to support the new non-profit because while her family can cover a significant portion of their backyard makeover there are other families with less funds who “also deserve to have their dreams come true”. 

“Their heart in this has been amazing,” Kaitie said. “And it’s even more amazing for us to know that other families will benefit from what they started in the future. We are humbled to be part of this new undertaking and are excited to spread the word of their work!”

To learn more about Columbus Hardscapes you can visit the company’s website at Columbus Hardscapes.