Funds exceed target

Jody Hanna: Blind teen now able to get treatment.

Thankful: Jody Hanna’s mother Alicia smiles during a fundraising auction Saturday at the Sturgis North Pub.

Thankful: Jody Hanna’s mother Alicia smiles during a fundraising auction Saturday at the Sturgis North Pub.

“The Big Guy had a big hand in this one.”

That’s how Lisa Devries describes the overwhelming community response that raised $45,500 in 16 days to send blind teen Jody Hanna to Phoenix, Ariz. for stem cell treatment that could give her the gift of sight.

Devries, who researched possible treatments for Jody, whose optic nerves are underdeveloped, began asking for funding help after finding a facility that has accepted the youth for the procedure and offers assurances that she can reasonably anticipate gaining some or possibly total vision.

A Jody Hanna day at Sturgis North Pub Saturday raised $17,605 dollars.

“We had about 100 to 150 people throughout the day,” says Devries, who was amazed that donations of items continued to pour in even as an auction was already underway. “It was not an overly large crowd, but it was a very generous, generous crowd.”

The silent and live auctions and a 50-50 draw raised just over $17,000 while 50 per cent of food sales donated by the pub added up to another $600.

“It’s overwhelming… I keep saying thank-you, thank-you and giving everyone hugs,” says Devries, who organized the daylong event with help from Cindy Teare. “But it’s not enough.”

Also finding it hard to adequately express the enormity of her family’s relief and gratefulness, is Jody’s mom Alicia.

“It’s a huge shocker, but I’m feeling really good about it,” she says. “I am so amazed by our little community of Salmon Arm, but I guess people want to help out.”

While she says the family will not know the extent of treatment Jody will require along with her stem cell procedure until January at the Stem Cell Rejuvenation Center in Phoenix, there will be additional costs.

With more than twice the $20,000 fund-raising goal already in the bank, the Hanna family has decided not to go ahead with a fund-raising appearance at Save-On Foods this Friday.

“We’re happy with what we’ve got…” she says, noting the original $20,000 goal was solely for the initial procedure. “This is fabulous – more than fabulous. I guess you could say I love everyone in Salmon Arm.”

And Jody?

“She’s excited, very happy to have this opportunity, but she doesn’t understand the full meaning,” Alicia Laughs, pointing out Jody’s excitement is “over the top at school, where they’re having a hard time containing the girl with the newfound star status.

“Whenever we walk into the school people notice us and say, ‘hi.’ That’s cool.”