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Annual sweet corn feed to benefit Valley Springs family
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

August 13. 2014 6:00AM
Proceeds from the annual sweet corn feed at Beaver Valley Lutheran Church this Sunday will go to a young Valley Springs family, Jeff and Mandy Wiertzema, and their recently-born twins, son Cooper and daughter Wesley. The preemie-sized twins were born at 28 weeks on May 16. Cooper tipped the scale at a mere 2 pounds, 6 ounces. Wesley, born second, weighed even less at 2 pounds, 1 ounce.

So this year, instead of raising funds for a special project at Beaver Valley Lutheran or a mission endeavor, planners decided that proceeds from the event should go to the Wiertzema family.

“It’s just one of those heart-breaking things,” Pastor Greg Johnson said of the gesture.

Sweet corn feed committee member Eileen Jacobson promises a hearty meal of sweet corn on (and off) the cob, new potatoes, meaty meatballs, fresh veggies, desserts and beverage, all for a free will offering.

And Pastor Johnson extends an invitation to all to the sweet corn feed and silent auction.

“We’ll show them what a community’s all about, because this community always rallies around those who need help,” he said.

Johnson adds that items may be donated to the silent auction through this Friday.

“It can be anything – art pieces, baskets of canned goods – for example,” he said.

The Wiertzemas are humbled by the kind gesture.

“We planned for the babies,” Mandy said. “I mean, we planned.”

But when complications in Mandy’s pregnancy arose at 18 months, she was placed on full bed rest, unable to work at Citibank, and 10 weeks later, delivered Cooper and Wesley.

“They (church members) asked us several times if they could do something for us,” Mandy said. “But we would just always say, ‘No, no,’ and then we finally agreed.”

Both babies went from their mother’s womb to the neonatal intensive care unit at Avera. In two months’ time, Cooper’s tiny frame reached 5 pounds, 15 ounces when he was released to go home on July 16.

“He was still small,” Mandy says.

Both babies were also born with premature eye disorder, which Mandy said, is normal for preemies. “They’re not able to see now,” she said, adding the twins will be about two years behind in their developments than a baby carried to full-term.

“Other than that, he had some normal preemie baby issues,” Mandy says. “But Wesley is a little different story.”

An extra valve on Wesley’s heart has not closed because of her premature birth, and that required open-heart surgery, which was performed July 31. Mandy said two clamps were put in her heart, which will help to close the holes. And at age 2, Wesley will require a follow-up heart surgery.

Mandy says Cooper continues to progress, but said her son still has some challenges because of his a preemie baby status.

“Normally, you would let a baby cry some,” she said. “But we can’t do that with him because it could cause brain bleeds.”

She does say that he has a healthy appetite, though.

The Wiertzemas look forward to the day when both Cooper and Wesley are at home in the comfort of their arms.

“I didn’t see their faces until they were probably about a month old,” Mandy says, as their petite faces were covered with apnea breathing machines and oxygen and feeding tubes. But today, the first-time parents can clearly see the twins similarities.

“At first I thought both looked like my husband,” Mandy said. “But now as they’re getting older, they do look a lot alike,” despite different hues of hair color. Their personalities and gestures, though, Mandy adds, are quite similar.

“I just can’t wait,” Mandy says, “until they’re both home with us.”
What: Beaver Valley Lutheran Sweet Corn Feed & Silent Auction
Where: Beaver Valley Lutheran Church, 26214 484th Ave.
Date & time: Sunday, Aug. 17 – 5 to 7 p.m.
Cost: Freewill offering
Donations: Can be mailed or dropped off at Beaver Valley Lutheran Church, 26214 484th Ave., Valley Springs, SD 57068. Please make checks payable to BVLC/Wiertzema children.
To learn more: Call 582-3504.

Twins, Wesley (left) and Cooper Wiertzema were born prematurely at 28 weeks on May 16. Proceeds from this Sunday's annual sweet corn feed at Beaver Valley Lutheran will go to Jeff and Mandy Wiertzema and the twins to help defray costs related to their medical needs. Submitted photo

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