Brandon pub raising funds for toddler with kidney failure
BRANDON - Two years ago, Melissa and Paul Ranieri weren’t even sure their baby would come home from the hospital. Today, little Evan Ranieri’s kidneys have pretty much failed, forcing him on to a dialysis machine three times weekly for four hours at a time. As his mother prepares to donate a kidney to him, O’Toole’s Irish Pub is planning a month-long fundraising event for the child and an awareness campaign about organ donation. “O’Toole’s regularly gets involved in community fundraising. Being an Irish Pub, it’s just part of the culture,” said Nicole Valentin, spokeswoman for the local pub and grill. “One of their regular patrons is a friend of the Ranieris and as soon as they heard about Evan, they were in.”As part of Organ Donation Awareness Month, O’Toole’s owners Marcus and Michelle Winters are hosting the month-long fundraising initiative. For the entire month of April, 5 percent of purchases made by O’Toole’s patrons with organ donor status on their driver licenses will be donated to Evan’s transplant account. Then, on April 13, O’Toole’s, 1215 W Brandon Blvd., will host a two-hour Happy Hour for Hope. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. patrons can buy a $20 wrist band for all-you-can-drink beer, wine and well drinks. All proceeds will go into Evan’s transplant account and will go directly toward paying his medical expenses. Evan was born with two severely underdeveloped kidneys. Thanks to good nutrition and medical care, the baby has enjoyed a relatively healthy and active routine. But in December, his kidneys shut down, forcing him on to dialysis, Melissa Ranieri said. The financial burden is tremendous. Now, with him on dialysis, the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, or COTA, has determined that expenses above and beyond what insurance pays -- just from now until a year after the transplant – will be about $100,000. “We’ve been fundraising for almost a year now and we’ve been able to raise $46,000,” Melissa Ranieri said. “O’Toole’s has actually been really great,” she said. “It’s hard to get the community involved.” This fundraiser will also help raise awareness about becoming an organ donor, she said. “This kidney transplant is not a cure for Evan,” his mom said, “but it will give him a shot at a normal life.” To learn more, visit www.cotaforevanr.com.