What began has one woman's mission to raise funds for those needing kidney transplants has turned into a community effort.
Individuals and organizations have come to the aid of FishHawk Ranch resident Devon Carter who started OperationKidney to raise funds for medical and travel expenses for those needing kidney transplants.
Carver was inspired to start the organization out of a personal need. The 34-year-old mother is battling end-stage renal failure. She spends 12 hours a day on dialysis to simply sustain her traitorous kidneys that now refuse to do their job. Without a live kidney donor, she will die.
However, after telling her own story on Facebook, she began hearing from other residents with kidney failure who are facing financial ruin due to medical bills.
Carver decided to host a fundraiser to help those in need.
She began planning a charity bowl-athon scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 14 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at The Alley at South Shore, 10221 Big Bend Rd., Riverview.
In addition to bowling, the event will include food, 50/50 raffles and a silent auction.
When she heard Carver's story, Maddie Eisenberg, an 11-year-old FishHawk Ranch resident, decided to help. She put together a basket to be auctioned off at the fundraiser.
"We named it the Rainy Day Entertainment Basket," said Maddie's mother, Debbie. "It has books that have been made into movies, Star Wars playing cards, lots of movie theater candy, pop corn and a gift certificate to AMC. Making a basket as a family is a great way to spend time with your kids. It shows our kids that their actions, no matter how small, can help another person."
However, Maddie's efforts didn't end there. She plans to sell homemade cupcakes during this Saturday's FishHawk Ranch Community Yard Sale to raise funds for OperationKidney.
Residents who drop by and purchase a cupcake from Maddie from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Eisenberg home, 14841 Heronglen Dr., can also bid on a chance to become a "Reporter for a Day," courtesy of WFLA anchor Gayle Guyardo. Parents can bid for their child in fifth grade or older to spend 1 1/2 hours learning to write and put together a story. The winner of the silent auction also will get to stay for a live taping of the news.
"Maddie's my special little angel. She was heaven sent," said Carver.
Also responding to Carver's plea for help is the FishHawk Softball League.
The league decided to cancel its all-star game Saturday and, instead, host a "One Strike" softball tournament to benefit OperationKidney.
The tournament will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13. Every batter in the tournament must come to the plate with $5 in his or her pocket each time at bat. If the batter is caught "looking" at a strike, he or she pays up at the plate.
The tournament will include food, raffles and prizes.
Teams from throughout the area are encouraged to enter. Those interested in playing should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I've received help from so many people," said Carver. "I'm just so grateful for all of the support."
Thanks to donations, Carver's living and dining rooms are overflowing with more than 40 themed baskets to be auctioned, along with a handmade quilt and a 19-inch television.
"This is such a generous community," said Carver. "I'm overwhelmed."
Whether they wish to bowl or simply bid on the baskets, residents are invited to the bowl-athon Sunday. The suggested donation is $25 per bowler and $10 for spectators, "but I won't turn anyone away," said Carver.
Battle With Kidney Disease Spurs FishHawk Woman to Help Others