CRESTVIEW — Anna Hutcheson is halfway near a $70,000 goal that could save her life.
The 17-year-old has had Eisenmenger syndrome since birth, and needs a double lung and heart transplant, according to University of Florida Health Shands Hospital doctors.
Her family is receiving help from the Children's Organ Transplant Association, which helps coordinate fundraisers to offset costly medications and therapies.
They can add $2,600 to the COTA collection following the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary Post 5450's Saturday fundraiser. Volunteers sold barbecue pork plates and organized two raffles with prizes donated by local business.
"I am driven by (helping) children," VFW member, event organizer and family friend Barbara Beadle said. "I can't imagine having a child in dire need of a transplant."
Anna has limited activity, headaches, shortness of breath and dizziness, and she must take several medications and receive an oxygen treatment at night, but her spirits are up, her mother said.
"She is like a normal teenager, without all of the running around," Patricia Hutcheson said. "She tires very easily."
Dr. Jennifer Wayer and Crestview Family Dentistry staffers organized a dental exam fundraiser last December. In October, family members set up a photo booth during the Fall Festival in downtown Crestview. In addition, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach and Niceville high schools have organized fundraisers, and several collection containers are in Crestview area businesses, Patricia said.
Most of those benefits, which raised $31,825.24 for the Crestview teenager, would have been impossible without the community's involvement, public relations coordinator Jessica Nance said.
The efforts will continue with an April 28 to May 3 Chill Yogurt fundraiser, in which a portion of the proceeds will benefit Anna's treatment fund.
The money's one thing, but finding a suitable donor is another, her mother said.
"She is on the (transplant) list and they are waiting for the perfect donor," Patricia said. "We are really grateful for everything the community has done."
HOW TO HELP
Learn about future fundraisers or donate toward Anna Hutchenson's health care costs at cotaforteamannahutch.com.