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Cassidy Banville: Fundraising for a Cause

Since early childhood, my older sister Molly, has bravely battled an unusual form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) complicated by Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. These combined health issues led to years of chronic symptoms and surgeries culminating into a small bowel and colon transplant performed at the Cleveland Clinic in 2015. Shortly after her double organ transplant, Molly went into chronic rejection and was listed for a modified multivisceral transplant.

After waiting over two years for the right organ donation – a stomach, pancreas, duodenum and both intestines, in early June of 2019, Molly became gravely ill and was hospitalized in Intensive Care. During this critical time, she was diagnosed with a rare strain of Guillain-Barre Syndrome and seizures. Molly continued to fiercely work every day to regain strength and feeling throughout her whole body due to severe nerve damage. This was going to take months of therapy, medical equipment, such as a specialized walker and the possibility of a motorized wheelchair, medications, and the possibility of home modifications. Even though this new battle was a setback for the modified multivisceral transplant, we were just as hopeful as she was that she would be able to regain most of her former mobility. Molly and my mom, Jenna, have continued to stay at the Transplant House of Cleveland for much longer than expected – which has been “home” since August 2015. They have left behind their jobs, family and friends – while Molly continues to recover from her second transplant and latest health issues.

After getting that terrifying phone call from my mom saying that my family and I had to come out to Cleveland because the doctors were not sure she was going to make it through the next night, my heart sank. My step-dad, dad, aunt and younger sister and I took the next flight out to Cleveland that day and spent the next week seeing my sister hooked up to all of these wires, tubes, and not being able to speak or move. After weeks being in ICU, my sister was given another chance at life and over-came yet another battle. At that moment, I remember seeing my parents in the hospital waiting room stressing over how they were going to come up with the money to accommodate Molly’s new needs. We had done small fundraisers before, such as spaghetti dinners, but I knew that this was not going to cut it. That moment I looked over at my dad and suggested us doing a big fundraiser in the town that my sisters and I grew up in, York, Maine. My dad, who had lived there his whole life, contacted a few people. We set a date for late August at an outdoor bar in the center of town.

When my dad and I got home a week later, I knew there was going to be a lot of planning that needed to happen quickly in order for this to be successful. Fast forward a few months later and after just a few short months of planning, organizing, and getting all the necessary tools we needed to make this happen, it ended up being a huge hit. I hope this guide will be able to help other families in the time of need when their loved one is sick.

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