Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

How you can help a Faribault family dealing with loss & cancer December 18, 2018

Nate and Jackie Howells and family of Faribault.


IT’S BAD ENOUGH when parents lose a young child. But to endure such a tragedy shortly before Christmas deepens the pain.

This is the reality for a Faribault couple whose almost 4-year-old son, Casimir, died on December 13. On his first birthday on December 27, 2015, Casi aspirated a small object and stopped breathing. According to a Facebook page entry, he lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest. The object was removed surgically. He then suffered seizure-like convulsions and was placed on life support. About two months later, Casi left the hospital and has since needed 24/7 health care. Now he’s gone.



But there’s more. Nate and Jackie Howells’ 10-year-old son, Xavier (known as Iggy), is battling metastasized cancer (rhabdomyosarcoma) diagnosed a year ago. He’s undergone surgery and continues with chemo. He’ll likely need another eight months of treatment.

Nate quit his job teaching children with autism at Jefferson Elementary School in Faribault to better care for Iggy. The Howells have four other children.

As I consider all of that, I am overwhelmed by the immensity of the situation. How can one family possibly endure so much? Loss. Grief. Pain. Uncertainty. Worry. It’s a lot to handle.


Iggy’s soccer team wore these shirts honoring their goalie.


While none of us can remove the emotional pain the Howells feel, we can pray for, support, encourage, uplift, help and care for them. Nate’s friend and former co-worker Lisa (also my friend) has established a gofundme page, Iggy Strong. She’s set a $43,000 goal, meant to replace Nate’s lost paycheck and cover daily living (think gas, groceries, etc.) and other expenses. Thus far donors have contributed nearly $8,500.

The $43K is a lot of money to raise. But I know people, when they see a need, rise to meet it. I am grateful to Lisa for initiating this effort, for reaching out to others (including me) who in turn can share this need. If you can give, please do so by clicking here. You’ll also find more details on Iggy’s battle with cancer.




There’s such sweetness in that freckled face. Such a signature boyish look that just makes me, as a mom, want to wrap my arms around Iggy. And his family.


Photos are courtesy of Lisa M. Bolt Simons, via the Howells family
© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “How you can help a Faribault family dealing with loss & cancer”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    That is definitely a tough situation and one that is so difficult to understand how it can all happen to one family. Thanks for sharing this need.

  2. Ruth Says:

    Donated and posted on FB. Hope it helps. A reminder life is precious and precarious and you are good to share their story.

  3. Jackie Says:

    Another connection you and I share. I am good friends with Iggy & (Casi’s) great Aunt. Iggy’s grandma and Ruth (my friend) are sisters. We go to the same church and attend the women’s class on Sunday mornings. Our prayers continue for this dear family. Thank you for sharing the “Go Fund Me” page Audrey. I’ve been meaning to give and just needed the reminder. This family has been through too much. Praying a miracle for Iggy!

    • First, thank you for your prayers, Jackie. It’s comforting to know that you and your church family in Rochester are supporting the Howells family.

      Secondly, thank you and Rick for your gift to the Howells family.

      Finally, I am not surprised at our connection to this family. We are, indeed, “sisters” in so many ways. God bless you, dearest Jackie.

  4. Kiandra Judge Says:

    Thank you for sharing this. My heart aches for the family. I will be thinking of them this Christmas and keeping them in my prayers.

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I picked can’t even imagine this family’s heartache. Prayers for them as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.