Pancake breakfast, motorcycle fun run to help local transplant patient

EVART — Gary Fite has been battling illnesses relentlessly for 14 years and is looking forward to a new lease on life.

Beating bladder cancer twice and kidney cancer, Fite fought several infections for years and now needs a kidney transplant.

To help with the costs of the transplant, after-surgery care and medication, Evart Moose Lodge No. 2452 is hosting a fundraiser for the National Foundation for Transplants in honor of Fite from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 17. The Evart Moose Lodge No. 2452 is located at 8400 U.S. 10, Evart.

The fundraiser, aimed at being fun for the whole family, includes a pancake breakfast and then a motorcycle fun run, with many chances to win prizes from raffles and auctions. There is a cost for admission.

Fite was a truck driver with big plans for his future when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer at 50. He thought he beat the cancer with aggressive Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (immunotherapy) treatments and chemotherapy, only to find out it came back. This time, however, it was in his bladder and kidney. Fite underwent surgery to remove his cancerous kidney, and later had to have his bladder and prostate removed.

Fite fought infections for years, which severely damaged his remaining kidney. A heart attack two years ago caused kidney failure and he has been on dialysis since then, which has taken a toll on his quality of life. Doctors say a kidney transplant is critical.

“My heart goes out for Gary, because I know he wants to be more active with his family," said Samantha Palazolo, NFT fundraising consultant. " At NFT, we want to help him raise the funds he needs to afford his lifesaving treatment and care.”

For fundraising support and guidance, Fite and his family turned to the NFT for assistance with some of their  financial burdens. NFT is a nonprofit organization that helps patients raise funds to pay for transplant-related expenses through their community-based fundraising program.

During this difficult time, Fite is thankful for the love and support of his family. He is married and has five grandchildren. His wife, Leslie, also is in bad health, so his chronic health issues have had a huge impact on their family. Fite is looking forward to spending many more years with his wife and family.

According to NTF, the average kidney transplant costs $335,000. Even with health insurance, which will cover a portion of the transplant cost, Fite faces significant expenses related to the surgery. For the rest of his life, he will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications. Post-transplant medications are very expensive, and they’re as critical to his survival as the transplant itself.

Those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation in honor of Fite, can send a contribution to NFT Michigan Transplant, 5350 Poplar Ave., Suite 430, Memphis, TN, 38119. Include "in honor of Gary Fite" on the memo line. Secure donations also can be made at Donors should click on “Find an NFT Patient” to locate Fite.