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Fundraisers set for ‘Little Viking’ battling rare leukemia

Morgan and Christian Rice with son Odin

Fifteen-month-old Odin Rice, pictured with parents Morgan and Christian Rice of Marble Falls, is battling a rare form of cancer. Fundraisers have been set up to help the family. Courtesy photo

As their toddler son, Odin, fought a persistent fever and a change in sleeping habits, Marble Falls residents Morgan and Christian Rice sought specialized medical help. They were not prepared for what they learned.

Odin was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with RAM immunophenotype, an aggressive and rare disease that has only been found in 12 children around the world. 

“RAM is very aggressive and typically has a poor prognosis,” said Morgan (Wellinghoff) Rice, a 2010 graduate of Marble Falls High School. “You always hear about these things, but it’s somebody else’s child.”

The 15-month-old, nicknamed “Little Viking” after the Norse god Odin, the father of Thor, is a patient at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin. He eventually will be sent to Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonioto undergo a blood marrow transplant. 

Because medical help is far from Marble Falls and Morgan is unable to work during this time, several fundraisers have been scheduled to help the family. 

On Feb. 27, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the family’s church, is selling breakfast tacos for a donation and lunch plates of pulled pork, beans, and rice for $10 each. Meals are available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day at the church, 105 RR 1431 East in Marble Falls. 

A co-ed softball tournament starts at 8 a.m. March 19 at the Johnson Park ballfield, 230 Avenue J South in Marble Falls. The tournament is limited to eight teams. Registration is $175 per squad. Money also will be raised through concession stand sales and raffles. Call Vonita Lozano at 830-613-5444 or Brandon Ribera at 830-385-0709 for more information.

You can also donate online through a GoFundMe account.

The Rices met in 2015 at a Chili’s in Atlanta where they both worked. They lived in Georgia for about three years before relocating to Marble Falls. They gave date recommendations in the Highland Lakes for the February 2020 issue of The Picayune Magazine along with two other couples. They were married soon after. 

“It was surreal,” Morgan said. “We had gotten engaged in Jamaica at the beginning of March. A week and a half later, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. It was definitely a surprise for sure.”

Before he became ill, Odin was “your typical toddler,” his mother said. He was babbling and learning to walk. He traveled everywhere with Wolfie, his favorite stuffed animal.

“He’s real good at throwing things. He’s good at building blocks. He loves making friends,” Morgan said. “It was very easy to tell something was wrong (after he became sick).” 

In addition to the fever, which started in November 2021, Odin didn’t want to be held and stopped eating and sleeping on his stomach, his favorite position up until then. 

“He became very lethargic,” his mother said. “We couldn’t keep him awake. I was cooking and turned to stir. When I turned back, he was slumped over in his chair.”

He also developed a rash, and his doctors requested blood tests in December. When the results came in, the Rices were told to bring Odin to the emergency room immediately.

More tests led to a diagnosis. 

“They’re going to write a case study on Odin for a medical journal because of the symptoms,” Morgan said. “Odin’s a fighter. He’s taking everything in stride. He’s doing everything he can to stay the happy baby he is.”

You can follow Odin’s story on his Facebook page.  

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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