NORTH PORT, Fla. - Tony Colton, 13, is stopping by to say hi to a special friend. Ashley is in isolation while recovering from a bone marrow transplant.
She's been in the hospital for 48 or 49 days. It has been so long - they have a photo album full of their pictures.
While private insurance is covering most of Ashley's medical care, other bills keep adding up.
Patricia Myers is Ashley's mother. "What you, as the family, are left with are the deductible, which is $3,000 to $7,000, depending on your policy, and the never-ending co-pays for pharmaceuticals."
And then there are travel expenses. Ashley and her family live in North Port.
There's missed work. Patricia says, "The first year alone cost us $40,000 above and beyond budget and we're insured and we worked." Ashley and family are now in year three.
"I knew the financial hardship on the family." So Tony has taken it upon himself to help raise money for Ashley and her family. He held car washes and garage sales and finally joined a web site called www.giveforward.com . "We raised over $25,000. It's helping them pay their bills and the house when she gets out of the hospital because it has to be nice and clean."
Tony is so familiar with the cost of battling cancer because he's fighting it himself - he and Ashley met in the halls of All Children's Hospital during their first fight with cancer. "We kind of made each other laugh a lot and just the bond of having someone you know you can lean on."
And now that he's been re-diagnosed too, Ashley, sick in bed, some days unable to really move, is spearheading an effort to raise money for him. Tony said, "It's not only just a battle for Ashley and I. It's not just about that. It's people showing their support for pediatric cancer awareness."
Ashley's mom says giveforward.com does take a very small percentage of the money raised, but she also says of all the fundraising web sites she's tried, this one worked the best and sent the check quickly - and it was good.
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