- We started our little online fundraiser on this blog on December 28, 2011. We did not really have a goal in mind, but we were hoping for a few hundred dollars. We were quite wrong. We briefly considered doing a charity walk in Vegas to raise funds, but that would have required an investment, more time than we had, and a team of volunteers, which we did not have. We have a team of two -- Judy and Dagy -- and we are trying to train Luna the dog to help, but she recently failed her typing test. We decided that social media would be our best bet. Luckily, we were right.
- Within 8 days, we have raised $7,500. Our donations range from $5 to $1,000 -- yes, you read correctly. That donation came from a corporation. The largest individual donation was $475 (amazing!) from a very generous female translator who would prefer to remain anonymous. We have sent thank-you notes to each and every donor. Even our dad donated!
- The donations have come in from more than 20 countries, including France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, UK, Canada, Mexico, US, Israel, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, etc.
- Álvaro is expected to make a full recovery, but will have to take expensive medications such as Lipitor for the rest of his life. His blood pressure has been dangerously low (think 85 over 50), but it is increasing. They are currently trying to find an affordable ophthalmologist to look into restoring Trish's vision. They were also able to get glasses for both of them. Since they lost their car, a good friend of ours was able to drive them to the optometrist's (we would drive them, but Reno is 8 hours from Vegas by car). Álvaro's glasses were lost when the paramedics picked him up to rush him to the hospital, and without them, he can't see a thing. He should hopefully have them in a week. They had to special-order them because of the high prescription.
- Álvaro is hoping that the medical bills will be less than $100,000 (three days in intensive care, angioplasty, lab work, paramedics, etc.), but there's no way to tell yet. We are hoping for less than that, and obviously, we won't be able to raise that much, but with the money that we have collected, they will be able to afford the follow-up care and their medications.
- We spoke to Álvaro today -- he's been sleeping a lot, as he should - and he wants everyone to know that words simply cannot express how thankful they are. He said that you all have quite literally saved his life -- for the second time, as his life was saved in the hospital. We were delighted to give him the good news about the $1,000 donation.
- Many European donors have expressed dismay about the American health care system and the lack of availability of affordable health care for the self-employed. We could not agree more, and we have been asked to write an entry on the subject. We are not experts in the matter, but we are working on getting a guest blog post from someone who is. We are both strong advocates of universal health care in the U.S., but that does not seem to be within reach.
- Many have asked us who we were able to raise this much money. The "secret" was social media -- we leveraged our connections, e-mailed roughly 500 people, tweeted about the fundraiser more than 100 times, and posted on this blog. We also posted on listservs and message boards from around the world and spread the word via Facebook. Many years, we doubted whether Twitter would be an effective tool. We've been converts for a few years now, and judging by how quickly word has spread via Twitter, it's probably the best social media tool available.
- In spite of the fees, we used a PayPal donation button to raise the funds. We did some investigating, and it seemed the best and easiest way to allow donations from around the world.
- We tried to get some media coverage, but have yet to be successful. Our (unrealistic) dream is for some big corporation to hear about this and to write a check.
Thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts, for all the donations and the support. We feel like we've been given the greatest gift of all by getting a front-row look at the outpour of generosity, support and love from around the world.