Student aids Haiti fundraiser

Posted Feb. 04, 2010, at 8:41 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:06 p.m.

MEDWAY, Maine — From his experiences as a volunteer in Nicaragua’s second-largest hospital, Kyle Dempsey can imagine the horror doctors and patients endure in Haiti.

There are no MRI machines or other sophisticated medical equipment. Caregivers are working with few if any sterile bandages or wraps and antique X-ray machines.

That’s why the 21-year-old East Millinocket native, a biochemistry major at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, is working with East Millinocket resident Kelli Willigar and her sister Tracy Giberson to mount a benefit supper in Medway.

The supper will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, at Medway Middle School, Willigar said.

The goal is to raise $2,500 for medical supplies to be shipped to the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean island nation through Partners in Health, an international organization dedicated to providing aid to some of the poorest regions in the world, Dempsey said.

Dempsey already has raised $1,630, according to the Web page he created at the Partners Web site, act.pih.org/page/outreach/view/haitiearthquake/KyleDempsey.

“Both [Nicaragua and Haiti] were basically comparable before the earthquake,” Dempsey said Wednesday. “In Haiti, they were missing a lot of basic medical supplies to begin with, but now that the earthquake has happened, it’s gotten much worse.”

The three residents came together to do the fundraiser after Dempsey, who is applying to go to medical school, e-mailed to dozens of area residents a letter and a link to a page he created on the PIH Stand With Haiti Web site, act.pih.org.

“We have the whole community helping,” Willigar said.

Millinocket Regional Hospital, the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce, the East Millinocket and Medway fire departments, and dozens of Katahdin area churches, stores and social service agencies are working to make the dinner a success, Willigar said.

After getting her start as chairwoman of East Millinocket’s Centennial Celebration in 2007, Willigar often holds fundraisers to benefit worthy causes in the Katahdin region. She is a co-organizer of the annual East Millinocket Summer Fest, the continuation of the centennial celebration.

“I just love doing this kind of stuff. Everybody I talk to wants to do something, and since we have a connection to someone who can actually get medical supplies there, it’s a perfect time to do something,” she said.

The Hometown Band, a country-rock band featuring Willigar and Giberson, will donate a performance to the dinner, Willigar said, while churches will donate sweets and restaurants food.

Anyone interested in contributing to the event may call Willigar at 746-9982.

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