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Garage Sale to Help Pay for Oswego Student's Surgery

Educators at Churchill Elementary School have teamed up to organize a Saturday benefit for Leah Pierson, an Oswego High School student with severe scoliosis. Leah had surgery last week.

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 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 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 – 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, . Saturday’s sale runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the south parking lot of Oswego High School.

Grammy June 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Too bad the Pierson's did not know about "Shriner's Hospital" in Chicago. They take care of children with orthopeditic problems all at NO COST to the patient. They do not take payment of any kind even if you have insurance. They do the kind of surgery Leah had. They take care of any children no matter what--rich or poor. You only have to contact a Shriner.
Concerned Citizen June 26, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Its really too bad there arent more people out there willing to share this information before the surgery took place. Im sure the family visited countless doctors and hospitals, and never found out about that information. Its too bad. Coming from a family who has endoured adult illnesses and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, I feel their pain. Im glad Leah got the surgery she needed and is comfortable recovering! Good luck to you! I could be missing it, but how can I donate to this garage sale? I have some items Id be willing to have them sell for Leahs medical bills.
Andre Salles June 26, 2012 at 03:18 PM
They'll be taking donations for the sale starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday in the south lot of OHS.
Karin McCarthy-lange June 26, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Great idea! I will be there with a van load on Saturday morning!
Jessie Okayama June 26, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I am happy to contribute! I will be there Sat. morning!

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