In 2011, Jon Graebner was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure and told that his only hope for survival would be a kidney transplant. In January 2012, Jon was fortunate enough to be placed on the waiting list for a transplant at Tampa General Hospital. The hospital estimated Jon’s out-of-pocket expenses leading up to transplant would be $10,000, plus an additional $10,000 post-transplant to cover some of his first-year medications. Recognizing that this was a financial challenge they couldn’t meet alone, Jon’s wife, Deana, reached out to HelpHOPELive.
They kicked off Jon’s fundraising campaign with a successful 5K race, which became an annual affair. From there, they started an annual golf tournament which raised nearly $20,000 in two years. As more money filtered into Jon’s campaign, HelpHOPELive was able to begin paying out expenses for dialysis, medications and travel to doctor’s visits. Since Jon was unable to work due to his condition, the funds raised were also used toward hardship expenses to pay bills, relieving yet another burden for the family.
As fundraising continued, Jon remained patiently waiting on the UNOS list for a kidney. However with O blood type, Jon and his family were told that the standard wait time would be nearly three years. So they began the search for a living donor, and in August 2013 a friend of Jon’s went through testing to see if she would be a match to donate her kidney. Funds raised through HelpHOPELive paid for the tests, which came back with wonderful results: she was a match. A few months later, on January 22, 2014, Jon received his long-awaited gift of life.
“HelpHOPELive’s online tools made it easy to manage and promote our fundraising events, helping us raise the necessary funds to cover expenses,” said Jon’s wife, Deana. “The staff’s support made event planning easier to manage, resulting in funds raised to cover Jon’s transplant expenses. Having the backing of their nonprofit status provided the assurance to our sponsors and event participants leading to great events.”
Several months post-transplant, Jon is thriving with his new kidney. HelpHOPELive continues to pay bills directly for follow-up visits and the medications that Jon will need to take for the rest of his life.