The ability to breathe easy comes at a steep price for some of us. Joseph Potvin was born with cystic fibrosis, and at 28 years old, his lungs are all but used up.
That’s why Rachel Ogle, Potvin’s cousin, is using all her free time to make sure he gets the lungs he needs. A 20-kilometre walk will be held on June 28 to raise the $20,000 required for Joseph and his mom to live while he recovers from a double lung transplant.
“It’s family,” she said. “If you can’t go to your family, who can you go to?”
Ogle said it’s been overwhelming to organize, but she’s taking it one day at a time. She recalls when he used to come over to babysit and would let her play video games if she did the dishes, a treat she wasn’t allowed.
“His passion is cars,” she said. “He’s won races for racing cars. If he was healthier he’d probably be a mechanic.”
Potvin was added to the lung transplant list last year and is waiting for a donor. The medical costs of the surgery will be covered, but living and travel expenses are on him, a difficult task for someone who has been unable to work for two years due to the condition.
As of June 12, they’ve raised $3,240 through private donations and change jars throughout the region. Ogle held a craft and bake sale on June 14 and has been making art in her spare time to sell.
Potvin started treatment Monday and once a donor is found it will take three months to recover. Ogle said his mom estimates they’ll need $3,000 a month to cover living expenses.
“When I was growing up I always knew that my cousin’s health would wane and get worse,” she said. “We just never knew when.”
The walk spans the Kissing Bridge Trail from Elmira to Guelph and starts at 9 a.m. Ogle’s sister will be collecting donations at the start in Elmira, her aunt will be halfway up the trail with refreshment and Ogle’s mom will be at the end in Guelph.
Potvin’s been in and out of hospitals, sometimes to get his weight back up, sometimes to drain his mucus-filled lungs. He also has type 1 diabetes and osteoporosis. She said he was scary skinny three years ago and they were worried he was going to die.
“We were visiting him in the hospital and they were saying ‘this might be it.’ But I looked at him and I thought I don’t think this is it,” she said. “He’s a pretty strong guy.”
She said because he’s over 21 there are no programs in place to help ease the financial burden.
“There’s no support,” she said. “There’s nothing.”
Despite this, she said it’s been a positive experience thus far.
“Every time I talk to someone about this they have an idea for me how to fundraise more money or they give me an idea of who to call for help,” she said. “It’s really encouraging.”
For more information contact Ogle at 519-884-3713 or visit an RBC location to donate.