SEMINOLE – A local family raised enough money at a garage sale to pay the cost of flying a 12-year-old St. Lucia girl to California Oct. 23 to meet with a specialist who will begin treating her for a left eye disease.
Jeanyth Richard, known as “Nicey,” will have a procedure for keratoconus, which causes the cornea, the outer clear window of the eye, to progressively herniate outward and turn cone shape.
“We had people lined up when I opened the garage sale. The first person was an elderly woman on a walker who didn’t even buy anything but handed me $20 for Nicey,” said Diana Flory, whose family held the fundraiser.
Through other fundraising efforts the Florys collected enough money, $7,400, to pay for the cost for the first procedure, which is expected to stop the progression of the disease and prevent her corneas from rupturing.
Richard has an appointment with Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler, in Beverly Hills, Calif. The specialist pioneered the Holcomb C3-R procedure that is named after Steve Holcomb, an Olympic bobsledder who was legally blind due to keratoconus until Wachler treated him.
As a member of the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks Beach, Flory went to St. Lucia on a mission trip in 2007 and first met Richard at a church function. She and her husband, Edward, have made arrangements to have Richard stay with them while she is in the United States.
Richard’s medical visa was finally approved Oct. 10. Her medical procedure is slated for Oct. 24. Other treatments are expected.
“She will go back in on the 25th early morning for a final examination and we will fly back to Seminole that same day. I was hoping she would have a couple of days rest between flying to the U.S. and California but it just isn’t working out,” Flory said.
Nevertheless, Flory is grateful for the support from the community and the turn of events.
“For a one and half day garage sale, we were able to make enough to pay for her flight to California,” Flory said. “I’ve never doubted this day would come because I know that God has been in charge since day one when I first noticed that she had a very serious vision problem.”