Fundraiser will help transplant patient
By RANDY GONZALES
ELLIS -- A weekend of fundraising activities are on tap Saturday and Sunday for Celeste Bliss-Johnson, 43, who was close to getting a kidney last summer, only to have misfortune strike. The hospital in Wichita that was to do the transplant stopped doing them just days before Bliss-Johnson was to receive hers.
A few months later, Bliss-Johnson got on the list for a kidney transplant at University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, where she now is third on the list.
But if all goes according to plan, Bliss-Johnson will have a new kidney this summer. Her younger brother, Breon, will donate a kidney.
Bliss-Johnson travels to Hays three times a week for dialysis treatment, which takes up a good portion of her day. Driving Bliss-Johnson to her dialysis treatments is Nancy Wright, Ellis, a member of the Senior Companion program.
It was Wright who played a pivotal role in organizing this weekend's activities.
"I just decided, they had small fundraisers, but there's more medical bills piling up," Wright said. "I just decided if we threw something really, really big, that we could make enough money that we would have her on her way."
A fundraiser last summer for Bliss-Johnson was hampered by rain, and approximately $700 was raised.
This weekend's activities start Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Hall, the starting point of a motorcycle run. Registration is from noon to 1 p.m. There will be a lunch of pulled pork sandwiches, salad and dessert at noon. The benefit run for the bikers starts at 1:30 p.m. At 2 p.m., there will be bingo at the K of C hall. Cost for lunch and bingo is $20.
Child care will be provided from 1 p.m. until bingo or the motorcycle run is finished. Cost is $5 per child.
From 5 to 7 p.m. at the Ellis Baptist Church, people can try on and buy approximately 50 wedding and bridesmaid dresses that were donated. At 8 p.m., there will be a dance at the K of C hall, featuring Sister Whiskey. There will be a freewill donation. Cocktails and beer can be purchased.
On Sunday, there will be a 5K color explosion run, with registration packets available to be picked up at 8 a.m. Late registration also is available at that time. The race starts at 9 a.m.
There will be a pancake feed at the K of C hall from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. A silent auction will finish at 2 p.m., the same time a live auction will begin. Auction items are on display at Ellis Equity Bank.
Bliss-Johnson has two daughters, Ashton, 13, and Aiden, 12.
"They're really excited for me to be healthy," Bliss-Johnson said. "They see how it affects me."
Bliss-Johnson said she is blessed to have such support. She and Wright both would like to have a yearly fundraiser to help others in need.
"I am so thankful," Bliss-Johnson said. "I was surprised with the first one (last summer) when they wanted to do that, and I was really surprised this time, and really thankful, because I'm paying more. I didn't know how I was going to be paying for things."
Wright said just chalk it up to a small town pulling together.
"It's just that kind of a town," she said. "It's a small town, and you get irritated when little things happen. But when someone really needs something, the town's there."