Tonawanda News

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February 16, 2014

HIGH COST OF HEALTH CARE: Tough choices, fundraisers filling the gaps for some

Tough choices, fundraisers filling the gaps for some

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — Eventually, Hepfer told Ronda that there had to be a fundraiser, and it was planned for February. Ronda’s immune system was too fragile for her to attend, but a couple thousand of her closest friends gathered at Lew-Port High School and raised $50,000 to cover some of the family’s outstanding bills.  

After Ronda died in April, Hepfer helped Dave organize his family’s expenses, but their Town of Lewiston home is up for sale and he and their two children will be moving to a smaller house.

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Remi Gonzalez is a sort of expert at fundraisers. The owner of Valery Construction has a knack for organizing and he’s held at least two events a year since 1982 when he had a spiritual experience in Rome.

In 2013, he doubled his efforts and held four fundraisers. Three were for people who dealing with catastrophic events that resulted in bills nearly impossible to pay, including one for local boxer Nick Casal, after he was attacked by club-wielding assailant. Without health insurance, Casal was left with thousands in medical bills that the fundraiser helped to pay off. 

Gonzalez also led efforts to raise money for a family whose son, a Niagara University student, died from an injury he suffered while on vacation. Another fundraiser was held to help pay the medical bills and expenses incurred during the illness of a Lewiston man who died in May.

“These fundraisers are very important,” Gozalez said, noting that beyond the costs of uncovered medical care, there are hidden costs inflicted upon families facing medical crisis, including days taken off of work by the caregivers, gasoline to and from all the doctor and hospital visits. But, mostly it’s the price of medical care. “The government, which is us, has to follow through on controlling or regulating the amount that can be charged for some of the medical procedures,” he said. “Where does it stop? It doesn’t.”   

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