MARQUETTE - Gary Vargo said the response so far as been incredible to an effort to raise funds to help a local woman who desperately needs a heart transplant.
Big Bay resident Judy Parrish's heart is only working at about 10 percent now, so Vargo and others are working to raise funds to help with medical costs incurred by she and her husband Jeff, who for a quarter of a century has been part of the Powell Township ambulance service.
"To be honest, the response actually has been kind of overwhelming," Vargo said. "We have food, music and prizes. Now what we need is people."
A benefit to raise funds to help defray medical expenses for Big Bay resident Judy Parrish will be held Sunday at the Powell Township fire/ambulance hall. Parrish is awaiting a heart transplant. (Parrish family photo)
People, as in attendees at a benefit for the Parrish family from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the fire/ambulance hall in Big Bay. Admission will be by donation.
A silent auction will be held, a gift basket drawing will take place and T-shirts will be sold for $15. The T-shirts are also available online at the website www.letskeepherheartbeating.org.
Jeff and Judy Parrish plan to attend Sunday's event and are driving up today from the Ann Arbor area where Judy is staying while she undergoes tests in anticipation of a transplant.
The transplant is necessary due to a condition caused by a medication Judy took while battling breast cancer a few years ago.
"I just spoke with Judy the other day and she's feeling OK," Vargo said. "She can't do much right now as she is so tired. She said this is a surreal feeling for her, all of this. It is for their whole family.
"Our attitude is Judy's still here and we can help her," he said. "Our goal is to take care of their out-of-pocket medical expenses for a year as Jeff lost his insurance. They have had some terrible luck."
The couple has been paying for insurance. Jeff had been working in North Dakota but moved back to Michigan to help his wife in her health struggles.
Judy had worked for 25 years as a dental hygienist at Dr. Bruce Miller's practice in Marquette, but had to leave that job because of her medical condition.
"We really appreciate everyone helping us with this," Vargo said. "I can't even imagine how it feels to go through what they are going through. It's been a rollercoaster of emotions as we have worked on the benefit. I am sure Sunday will be an emotional day as well.
"But I know we're going to make this happen for them."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.