When Clinton Ho decided he wanted to do a bottle drive to help raise money for Leah Wiebe’s leukemia treatment in the U.S., he set a goal of $900 and he never expected he would surpass that goal five times over.
He raised $4,789.60 from a week of collecting after putting out a message on Facebook asking people to donate their empties.
He sent out four to five truckloads of bottles to the depot and a man brought a 24 foot cart that was also filled up and taken to the depot.
But Ho is quick to say he didn’t do it all by himself.
“I’d also like to mention lots of volunteers came out and helped do the sorting and hauling, which was perfect,” he said.
“The amount of community support I had was perfect. It was awesome and overwhelming.”
Ho started the bottle drive after he saw Wiebe’s dad, Mike Rosenau, put out a plea on TV asking for help and learned there weren’t any bottle drives being done at that time.
Wiebe has been battling an aggressive form of leukemia, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, since May 2016 and a few weeks ago, doctors said she only had a few weeks to live without the CAR-T treatment that’s only available in the U.S.
The treatment is free but there are still medical costs associated with it that Canadian medical insurance wouldn’t cover, about US $480,000.
A clinical trial of CAR-T was available in Seattle, Washington and fundraisers began to raise money to help with the hospital costs, plus any unforeseen medical costs and living expenses for the family during the three months she will be in Seattle.
Late last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the treatment and the BC Ministry of Health, which had been in talks with Rosenau about paying for it, agreed to pay the US $480,000 in medical expenses.
About $250,000 was still expected to be needed for unforeseen medical expenses and living expenses for the family.
A YouCaring fund set up online has raised more than $300,000 and an online auction raised more than $40,000 in addition to money made by several more fundraisers.