One thing you can say about the Oswego community: they rally around those in need, helping out however they can. This Saturday will be no exception.
A group of educators from Churchill Elementary School has organized a garage sale to benefit Leah Pierson and her family. Leah was born with severe scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that can eventually cause significant health problems.
According to Leah’s father, Todd Pierson, the family tried braces and back exercises when Leah, now 15 and an Oswego High School student, was younger, but to no avail. She needed surgery to correct the problem, and last Wednesday, that’s exactly what she had.
Todd said they made a foot-long incision in Leah’s back, and inserted rods screwed to her vertebrae to straighten her spine out.
The surgery went well, Todd said, and Leah was released from the hospital on Sunday. There were no complications, he said, and she’s already up and walking around.
But there is the matter of the medical bills, and even Todd isn’t sure how much they’re going to cost him. Because he is self-employed – he owns a photo and video studio – he has private insurance, and the deductible is around $8,000.
Couple that with the fact that the top specialist in the area who could perform Leah’s surgery was not in their insurance network – a fact the Piersons did not discover until after it was done. They know they will need to pay $8,000 out of pocket, but Todd said they’re not sure how much more they will be billed for. The surgery was estimated to cost as much as $300,000.
That’s where Lisa Frederick and her fellow Churchill Elementary teachers come in. Frederick is a paraprofessional and a teacher’s assistant to Marquita Popidinski at Churchill, and she worked with Leah during her 4th and 5th grade years in special needs classes. She’s teamed up with teachers and TAs from Churchill to organize Saturday’s benefit.
The event will take place in the south parking lot of Oswego High School, at 4250 Rt. 71. Frederick explained that the group will be taking donations for the sale starting at 7 a.m., and no firm prices will be set. People can pay whatever they think an item is worth, Frederick said.
All of the money raised, she said, will go to the Pierson family. And whatever items are left unsold will be donated to Goodwill.
Todd Pierson said since he first started talking about his daughter’s scoliosis, the reaction from the community has been “pretty amazing.”
“We got hundreds of emails from the community and our church and friends,” he said, along with prayers and donations.
Leah, he said, is an in-the-moment kind of person, and even though she is frustrated at having to remain less active for a while, she is recovering quickly, and in good spirits, he said.
Todd Pierson has been keeping a blog with photographs of Leah’s treatments. If you would like to donate to the family, there’s an option on that site to do so. To see Todd Pierson’s video about his daughter, go here. Saturday’s sale runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the south parking lot of Oswego High School.