SHARON, Pennsylvania - Learning your child is sick with a potentially fatal disease can be taxing on your body, your mind and your wallet.
However, the Shenango Valley Children's Transplant Fund can help lift some of the burden.
Shenago Valley Children's Transplant Fund was founded more than 25 years ago when a local man, whose own son suffered heart complications, learned of a family who was unable to afford a transplant for their daughter. The organization has been going strong ever since, making sure no local child has to go without.
"It pays for things that insurance doesn't pay for like gas, food. Sometimes they'll pay the home bills and the heating bills, clothing for some children if they need that," said Tony Perry, Shenago Valley Children's Transplant Fund.
In the last 27 years, the fund has helped more than two dozen families including the Babcanec's of Sharon.
"It is hard enough to deal with the medical part of it, but the financial part is tremendous. So, what a huge burden that the fund has taken off of us," said Patty Babcanec of Sharon.
More than a decade has passed since the Babcanec family received help from the Shenango Valley Children's Transplant Fund. Back in 2000, Patty and Boe Babcanec learned their two oldest had a hereditary kidney disease.
"It is just heart breaking. We knew we were up for a huge challenge," Babcanec said.
At the age of five, Joey's kidneys began to fail. He immediately started receiving dialysis three days a week in Pittsburgh and was placed on a transplant list, a list that for some takes years to get on. But for Joey it took only weeks.
"I took him to the park and we sat there and I told him, I've got some good news and some bad news. And I said the bad news is you are going to need a new kidney, because we really just kept a lot from them because, you know, he is five, and I said but the good news is mom is going to be able to give you her kidney. He said you are a good sharer mom, thanks. So it was a great moment, you know, and we hugged and had a wonderful moment together and that was kind of the beginning," Babcanec said.
The pair underwent surgery in October of 2001 and while it was a relief knowing Joey had found a match, the journey to find Joshua a match was just beginning. One year, one month and two days after Joey's surgery, Joshua found himself in surgery and so did Boe. The two, just like Patty and Joey, were a perfect match.
"Every day is a blessing to us and I know that. Even the smallest little things that they do are tremendous to me. I see it as such a gift," Babcanec said.
Both Babcanec boys most likely will have to have another transplant.
On Thursday, the Shenango Valley Children's Transplant Fund will host its only fundraiser of the year which helps area families, like the Babcanec's. Tickets are available until Tuesday night.
The 27th annual dinner will take place at the Avalon Golf and Country Club in Sharon. Contact Tony Perry at 724-699-0340 for more information.
Donations and other contributions can be made to:First National Bank of Pennsylvaniac/o Vickie Verroco3320 East State StreetHermitage, PA 16148